Orioles

Quick Links

Ibanez hits for A-Rod, homers twice in Yankees win

201210102222805708454-p2.jpeg

Ibanez hits for A-Rod, homers twice in Yankees win

NEW YORK (AP) Down by a run in an all-even AL division series, Joe Girardi approached Alex Rodriguez and told baseball's highest-paid player he was going to pinch hit for him.

Bold move, benching one of the game's great sluggers.

``I just had a gut feeling,'' the Yankees manager said. ``I just went to him and I said, `You're scuffling a little bit right now, we have got a low-ball hitter and we've got a shorter porch in right field then left field obviously - Raul (Ibanez) has been a good pinch hitter for us, and I'm just going to take a shot.'''

The audacious decision worked.

Ibanez homered in the ninth, then again in the 12th, rallying New York to a stunning 3-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night for a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five series.

The slumping Rodriguez offered no complaint, telling Girardi: ``Joe, you gotta do exactly what you gotta do.''

Injured saves leader Mariano Rivera went to Rodriguez in the dugout after seeing Ibanez head for the on-deck circle.

``I told Alex not to worry, that Raul was going to hit a home run,'' Rivera said.

And Rivera was right next to A-Rod when Ibanez lined Jim Johnson's 1-0 pitch into the right field stands. Rodriguez threw his arms into the air and then exchanged high-fives with Rivera. When Ibanez returned to the bench, Rodriguez was the first player to greet him.

``There was no one happier than me, one of the best performances I have ever seen,'' Rodriguez said.

Yankees fans had been howling this week for Girardi to drop Rodriguez out of the No. 3 spot in the batting order. But Girardi was reluctant to move his fading slugger down in the lineup.

Until he took him all the way out.

``You have to make some decisions sometimes that are tough decisions. I just had a gut feeling,'' Girardi said.

Rodriguez has 647 career home runs - he's chasing the record of 762 by Barry Bonds - and is making $29 million this year. But was just 1 for 12 with no RBIs and seven strikeouts in this series when Girardi pulled him.

``It kind of caught me off-guard, hitting for a guy who's half-a-billionaire,'' Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said.

It was the first time Rodriguez had ever been pinch hit for in a postseason game, according to STATS LLC.

``Sometimes you've got to do what your gut tells you, and my gut told me to make the move,'' Girardi said. ``I still have the utmost respect for Al and I still think he's a great player, he's just going through a little tough time right now.''

Ibanez remained in the game and connected on the first pitch from Brian Matusz in the 12th. He became the first player to homer twice in a postseason game in which he didn't start, STATS said.

Phil Hughes will try to clinch it for the Yankees on Thursday night in Game 4. Joe Saunders will start for Baltimore.

The Orioles had won 16 straight extra-inning games, and had been 76-0 when leading after seven, before the Yankees stung them.

``It was a great experience. We do it as a team. We stay after it,'' Ibanez said. ``I'm blessed to come up and have the opportunity like that. We do it together. It's about a team and about winning.''

The brash, young Orioles appeared poised to move within a win of their first trip to the AL championship series since 1997 before the Yankees' comeback.

Ibanez hit a 1-0 pitch into the seats in the ninth, setting off a raucous celebration in what had been a demoralized Yankee Stadium crowd.

Ibanez at first didn't know who he was hitting for and was a bit startled when Eduardo Nunez told him.

``Alex is one of the best hitters of all time, and he still is,'' Ibanez said. ``I mean, he's one of the greatest players in the history of the game. So for a minute I just thought something was going on, I didn't know what was happening, and then I just tried to put it behind me and get a good pitch to hit.''

After their 10-game July lead was cut to zero in early September, the Yankees repelled every Orioles charge. The teams were tied 10 times in the final month but New York ended up atop the division.

New York won the opener in Baltimore by scoring five runs in the ninth off Johnson, who had 51 saves in the regular season. The Orioles won Game 2 and rode Miguel Gonzalez's pretty performance to a 2-1 lead in the ninth.

``Jimmy is a big-hearted, talented guy that believe me, we'd be at home watching without people like Jim Johnson,'' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ``He's a special guy. We're real proud of him, and you'll see him again tomorrow night, I hope.''

The Yankees limited Baltimore to one hit after 20-year-old Manny Machado homered in the fifth. Ryan Flaherty homered earlier for the Orioles.

Robert Andino was doubled off second after leading off the Baltimore ninth with a single and advancing on a sacrifice.

Boone Logan got one out in relief of Hiroki Kuroda, who gave up two solo homers in 8 1-3 innings. Closer Rafael Soriano pitched 1 1-3 innings and David Robertson went two, finishing off his outing by bumping into and tagging Andino to end the top of the 12th.

Derek Jeter tied the score with an RBI triple in the third for the Yankees. Jeter, limping after fouling a ball off his foot, came out after eight innings. He says we will be able to play Thursday.

Girardi will wait and see.

``Well, we've seen what he's been able to do in his career and how he's been able to come back,'' Girardi said. ``Just got to keep our fingers crossed.''

NOTES: Rivera threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Flaherty and Machado are first pair of rookie teammates to homer in the same postseason game. At 20 years, 96 days, Machado is the second-youngest player to homer in the postseason behind Yankees OF-DH Andruw Jones, according to STATS. He did it in 1996 for Atlanta, when he was 19 years, 177 days.

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.