Orioles

Quick Links

Girardi stays in Yanks dugout after father's death

201210111605579579998-p2.jpeg

Girardi stays in Yanks dugout after father's death

NEW YORK (AP) The Yankees' team bus was on the Henry Hudson Parkway last Saturday when Joe Girardi's phone rang. After deteriorating from Alzheimer's disease since the 1990s, his father had died in Illinois.

``I had tears in my eyes on the bus, so I put some sunglasses on,'' the manager said Thursday, struggling not to cry, ``and (did) probably what a lot of men do when they go through difficult and sad times, we try to stay busy. That's what we do. And I tried to focus.''

For five days, Girardi did not disclose dad's death to his players, preferring not to talk about it and not wanting to distract his team. Jerry Girardi, who was 81, will be buried in Tampico, Ill., next Monday - an off day in the AL championship series.

``I was going to tell them, you know, God willing we get into the next round, that I was going to the funeral on Monday and I wouldn't be at the workout,'' he said. ``That's when I was going to tell them.''

New York played another late-night thriller with Baltimore, which won 2-1 in 13 innings to force a decisive Game 5 Friday. The Yankees have one more chance to advance to the ALCS.

A man on a mission. That's what Joe Girardi is. That's what he learned from Jerry Girardi and his mom, Angela, who died in 1984.

Not managing for a night never entered his mind, not last weekend, not now. He stood alone in front of the dugout and wiped tears from his eyes during a pregame moment of silence, then blew a kiss to someone in the stands.

``The one thing that both of them, besides many other things that they taught me, was always to finish the job at hand,'' Girardi said. ``So my thought process was my dad would want me to do everything that we could do to go win a World Series. He had been a part of them with me as a player. 2009 - I don't think he understood what we did at that time. He was at a stage in Alzheimer's that he wasn't talking, so I don't think he understood.''

And then the manager with the close-cropped hair and serious look, a man who almost always maintains a steely cool, got emotional and choked up.

``I had a tremendous relationship with my father. Wherever he went, I went. When he stopped, I ran into him,'' Girardi said. ``And I've always said, if I could be half the husband and father my dad would be, that would be special.''

It was as difficult a pregame news conference as there can be. A night earlier, Girardi made the toughest decision of his six years as a major league manager. With the Yankees trailing 2-1 in the ninth inning, he pinch hit for slumping Alex Rodriguez, baseball's most expensive player. Raul Ibanez batted for A-Rod and not only hit a tying home run, hit went on to hit a winning homer in the 12th to give New York a 3-2 victory.

``He would have been extremely proud and probably told all his buddies,'' Girardi said of his dad.

Jerry Girardi served in the U.S. Air Force in the Korean War and worked in construction sales and as a bricklayer. Sounds like he was a tough guy who didn't back down.

``I was watching my dad change a bathtub spigot, and he had the wrench, and he was trying to tighten it, and the wrench slipped and hit his thumb and he broke his thumb and it was bleeding,'' Girardi said. ``But he finished what he had to do. He finished that, and my mom was like, `You've got to go to the hospital,' and he's like, `Nope, I've got to finish it.' He just taped it up.

``So I thought, that's what my dad would want me to do, so that's what I tried to do.''

Across the field, opposing managers look at Girardi and assume his fight comes from his dad. Baltimore's Buck Showalter reflected on the 1991 death of his father, Bill, a retired high school baseball coach and principal.

``I talk about it all the time, we're at the mercy of the mothers and fathers of the world, and I know you've got a pretty good idea what Joe's dad must have been about,'' said Showalter, who started his major league managing career with the Yankees. ``My dad passed away two weeks after I got the job here managing, and I think about him every day. I have a little special feeling for what I'm sure some form or fashion Joe is feeling.''

Alzheimer's runs in the Girardi family. His father's mother died from it and his father's brother Ronnie did, too.

``We see what it does to families, and I've always talked to other people, because I've been through all the different stages about (how) sometimes we get frustrated with our parents when they're going through that,'' he said. ``And believe me, they don't want to forget. They don't want to forget where they put their keys. ... You have to show them a lot of patience and kindness and try to understand the disease.''

Girardi talked baseball with his dad, went to Wrigley Field together, played catch in the backyard, watched Cubs' games together on TV. He had given his father his 1996 World Series ring.

He thinks about his dad often, but not when he's in the dugout and it's time to make decisions. He smiled when he reflected about one change this week.

``I'll be able to do my job, because I know that's what they would want me to do,'' Girardi said. ``When I think about it, it's the first time in over 28 years that my mom and dad have seen a game together again. So they'll be watching, and they'll be mad if I'm not doing my job. I know that.''

Quick Links

Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

usatsi_11088837.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

Buck Showalter has been fired as manager of the Orioles, who made three playoff appearances under his guidance but this year staggered through the worst season since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954.

Showalter confirmed the dismissal Wednesday in a text message to The Associated Press.

A three-time AL Manager of the Year, Showalter ranks second on the Orioles' career list with 669 victories, trailing Earl Weaver. He took over in August 2010 and orchestrated the resurgence of a team that suffered through 14 straight losing seasons.

Once hailed for making baseball in Baltimore relevant again, the 62-year-old Showalter is out of a job after a season in which the Orioles finished 47-115, 61 games behind Boston in the AL East. His contract expired at the end of October, and the Orioles opted against a renewal as they continue a major rebuild that began in late July, when they traded stars Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman for minor league prospects.

Those deals were made by Dan Duquette, the executive vice president of baseball operations, whose future with the organization is up in the air.

Showalter earned AL Manager of the Year honors in 2014 after taking the Orioles to the AL East title and a berth in the Championship Series. He was also named Manager of Year with the Yankees in 1994 and Texas in 2004. His career record is 1,551-1,517, including 669-684 with Baltimore.

"I just think ever since he came here, the franchise just gained a little more accountability, gained an edge for some time," Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said before the final game of the season. "It's the end of an era. A great manager, a great tenure. I don't know if he's going to coach or manage again, but he's got grandchildren. Go golf. Relax and go sit on the golf course."

With his future in doubt, Showalter appeared undaunted during the final series of the regular season.

"You know how good they've been to me? I'm not ever going to forget that, regardless of what happens," he said.

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin was asked before his team's playoff game against the Yankees on Wednesday night whether Showalter was victimized by the trend toward analytics.

"I don't think Buck was a guy that ignored analytics," Melvin said. "I think it was probably a combination of how they did this year and maybe some relationships."

After the Orioles brought Showalter out of retirement, he offered renewed hope by fashioning a 34-23 finish in 2010 for a team that was 32-73 upon his arrival.

Baltimore ended a 14-year playoff drought in 2012, advancing to the AL Division Series following a victory over Texas in the wild-card game. Playoff appearances in 2014 and 2016 followed.

Last year, however, the Orioles fell to 75-87 after losing 19 of their final 23 games. Baltimore hoped the addition of starters Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner would enable the team to be a contender this year, but a horrid start quickly dispelled that notion.

The Orioles' deficit in the AL East reached double digits by April 18 and they were 8-27 on May 8. By the end of July, Baltimore fully entered rebuilding mode, leaving Showalter with the dubious distinction of overseeing a team that finished with the poorest record in the majors and one that surpassed the 1939 St. Louis Browns for most losses in franchise history.

Showalter never offered an excuse. He just grinded forward, working to prepare the team for 2019 even though he knew he might not be around to follow through.

At the outset of a season-ending series against Houston, Showalter was asked if he was thinking these might be his final days in the Baltimore dugout.

"We all have some private thoughts and emotions about that, but I don't think it serves the organization well for me to be worried about that right now," he said. "We've got some things to do these last four games that need to get done."

Showalter has a reputation as a no-nonsense manager, but his players appreciated his baseball knowledge and skill at handling a team. He made a point of talking to each of them on a regular basis, almost always offering encouragement.

"He gave me a chance," said catcher Caleb Joseph, who played six-plus years in the minors before arriving in Baltimore. "He believed in me in 2014, ran me out there and gave me a chance to be part of a championship team. He's really vouched for me ever since. I owe a lot to Buck and his loyalty. He's been a main figure here for a long time."

Sensing the end was near for the only big league manager he had ever played for, first baseman Trey Mancini said: "It's been an absolute honor to play for Buck. He's been incredible."

Quick Links

Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

usatsi_11312711.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

The Boston Red Sox broke a 106-year-old franchise record with their 106th victory on Monday night, clinching home-field advantage through the postseason by beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 thanks to a pair of hits from major league batting leader Mookie Betts.

Nathan Eovaldi struck out 10 hapless Orioles batters to assure the Red Sox of the best record in baseball this season and home-field advantage through the World Series, if they make it that far. For now, they know they will open the Division Series at Fenway Park on Oct. 5 against the winner of the AL wild-card game between the New York Yankees and mostly likely Oakland.

The 1912 Red Sox won 105 games in their first season at Fenway Park.

The Orioles (45-111) became the sixth AL team and the first since the 2003 Tigers to lose 111 games, falling 60 games behind Boston (106-51) in the division. It's the first time since 1939 that teams separated by 60 wins in the standings have played each other.

Boston scored four in the second inning, getting back-to-back doubles from Steve Pearce and Brock Holt, an RBI single from Christian Vazquez and Betts' two-run homer over the Green Monster. It was the 32nd homer of the season for Betts, a new career high.

Betts also singled and scored in Boston's two-run fourth, moving him into the major-league lead with 125 runs scored. In his last three games, he is 10 for 16 with three homers and four doubles, and he leads teammate J.D. Martinez (.328) in the AL batting race.

Renato Nunez had three hits for the Orioles, who fell to 2-15 against Boston and 18-61 on the road this season.

FOR STARTERS

Six days after throwing six scoreless innings against the Yankees, Eovaldi (6-7) allowed one run on four hits in five innings, walking none but uncorking a pair of wild pitches.

Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy (8-16) gave up four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings, striking out five.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Yefrey Ramirez is scheduled to start on Wednesday, but manager Buck Showalter said he wanted to give him an extra day or two. "I think Yefrey will pitch again, I just don't know when," Showalter said.

Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts was back in the lineup after feeling soreness in his left shoulder during a swing and leaving Sunday night's game. ... INF Eduardo Nunez ran on Sunday to test his hamstring and was scheduled to run again on Monday with the goal of having him back in the lineup by Wednesday or Friday.

UP NEXT

LHP David Price (15-7) tries to bounce back from a rough start in Yankee Stadium in the second game of the series in what could be his last start of the regular season.