Orioles

Quick Links

Ibanez, Ibanez: HRs twice for Yanks vs O's

201210102139779658367-p2.jpeg

Ibanez, Ibanez: HRs twice for Yanks vs O's

NEW YORK (AP) Told he was batting second in the ninth inning, Raul Ibanez turned to Yankees teammate Eduardo Nunez.

``I asked who was hitting, and it was Alex, so I assumed something was going on,'' Ibanez said. ``I didn't know what was happening, and then I just tried to put it behind me and get a good pitch to hit.''

Turned out to be one of the nights of his life.

Ibanez pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez and went on to become the first player in major league history to homer twice in a postseason game he didn't start. His tying drive in the ninth inning and a winning shot in the 12th gave New York a 3-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday and a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five AL division series.

Quite a month for the bald, well-spoken 40-year-old, who left the division-clinching celebration early last week when his wife gave birth to son Luca.

``I'm a very blessed man. I have a healthy baby boy and my wife is healthy, my children are healthy,'' Ibanez said. ``And then getting an opportunity to play for this great team, great franchise, and being in that situation and having it work out that way is a great blessing.''

When spring training started last February, Ibanez still was searching for a team. He signed for $1.1 million and wound up earning another $2.05 million for reaching 425 plate appearances. He hit .240 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs, but the numbers alone don't tell the story.

Including the playoffs, Ibanez has four home runs that tied the score for the Yankees and eight that put New York ahead. He also homered twice after entering as a pinch hitter on Sept. 22 in a 10-9, 14-inning win over Oakland. And with New York fighting for the AL East title, he hit a tying pinch homer against Boston in the ninth on Oct. 2 and then singled in the winning run in the 12th.

And now he has his own edition of Yankees Classics.

``I just had a gut feeling,'' manager Joe Girardi said.

Ibanez tied the game at 2 when he drove a 94 mph fastball from Jim Johnson over right-center field scoreboard with one out in the ninth.

It was the fifth time the Yankees hit a tying home run in the ninth inning or later of an extra-inning game that New York went on to win. The others were Tino Martinez in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series, Scott Brosius the following night, Rodriguez in Game 2 of the 2009 division series and A-Rod in Game 2 of that year's AL championship series. (Elston Howard in 1957 and Tom Tresh in 1964 hit tying homers in games the Yankees went on to lose.)

In the 12th, Ibanez sent a 91 mph pitch from Brian Matusz into the right field second deck.

``I think the tendency late in the game when the game is tied is, I think as players, we try to do a little too much,'' Ibanez said. ``I was trying to fight that feeling, trying not to do too much.''

Ibanez's teammates had trouble digesting the inconceivable.

``It seemed like it was something out of a cartoon,'' Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda said through a translator. ``It was unbelievable.''

Quick Links

Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

brandon-hyde-cubs-orioles.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

The Orioles have finally found their man.

After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.

Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.

Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
 
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”

Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.

Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.

Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.

Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.

The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.

Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.

Quick Links

Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

brandon-hyde-usat.jpg
USA Today Sports

Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

Orioles new general manager Mike Elias is a busy man out in Las Vegas. Not only is he looking to add much needed talent to Baltimore's roster but he is also searching for a new manager. Elias interviewed six candidates, including Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, for the vacancy. On Monday, Elias said they were “pretty far along in the process.”

Then the reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Orioles had found their man. 

For a second straight year, Joe Maddon's bench coach has landed a managerial job (Davey Martinez). 

But, in the words of College Gameday's Lee Corso "Not so fast my friend!"

Does that mean Hyde is not the manager? Not necessarily. It likely means Elias wants the news to come out on his terms.