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Markakis proves he's the teams' most valuable


Markakis proves he's the teams' most valuable

In three weeks, the Orioles will ask the media to choose the teams most valuable player. During most of the losing years, the choice was usually fairly obvious, a player with gaudy statistics on a bad team.Yes, this year its different.For most for the season, the choice was a simple one: Adam Jones. He was last years Most Valuable Oriole and looked to be the first back-to-back winner since Rafael Palmeiro in1995 and 1996. Jones would still be a solid choice. He has a .284 average, 26 home runs and 68 RBIs. He carried the club offensively during its torrid first quarter when it went 27-14. Jones was rewarded with a deserved long-term contract, and dont forget, hes played every game.Hes fallen off some offensively, and went through the longest home run drought of his career, though his average was steady.A vote for Jones couldnt be argued with.Nor could one for Jim Johnson. The major league leader in saves, Johnson has converted 41 of his 44 save opportunities, and hes nearing the team record. The Orioles won two of the three games Johnson blew.Johnsons 2.88 ERA is deceptively high. He allowed 11 of his 18 earned runs in just two appearances. Johnson has converted his last 11 chances and has a 12 23 inning scoreless streak.Another good pick.A vote for Wei-Yin Chen with a 12-8 record wouldnt be a wasted one, either. In his rookie season in a foreign culture, Chen is the only starter to remain in the mix throughout the season.In recent weeks, another candidate has emerged: Nick Markakis.Markakis missed six weeks when he needed surgery to remove the hamate bone from his right hand. The Orioles were 16-19 without him, and were shutout six times.With Markakis in the lineup, theyre 59-40 and have been shut out just twice. The real payoff from Markakis began on July 13 when manager Buck Showalter decided he would bat leadoff for the first time in his career.Markakis batting average has improved from .256 to .300 and his on-base percentage, crucial for a leadoff hitter, has moved up from .333 to .367.During spring training when manager Buck Showalter contemplated a leadoff hitter, Markakis name didnt come up. He used Nolan Reimold until he was hurt, tried Robert Andino, Endy Chavez, Xavier Avery and even Ryan Flaherty before Brian Roberts came back.When Roberts was lost, Showalter turned to Markakis. In those spring training soliloquies, Showalter would say that a computer program says you should put your best hitter in the leadoff spot. It took him four months, but he finally did it.Showalter sold Markakis on the idea, saying hed be able to make up some of his at-bats missed during his injury.Its worked brilliantly. The Orioles are 30-19 since Markakis moved to leadoff.This was the first time Markakis was on the disabled list. In his previous five seasons, he averaged 160 games. While it may seem counterintuitive for a Most Valuable Oriole candidate to play in fewer than 130 games, Markakis showed how valuable he was by his absence.Showalter, who will get lots of attention in the Manager of the Year voting, will surely deflect attention toward his players. He won the award in 1994 with New York and 10 years later with Texas.
His Markakis move saved the season and campaigning for Manny Machados promotion was huge, too. Machado, whod barely played third base, has adjusted easily while holding his own at bat.Showalter will have competition with Chicagos Robin Ventura and Oaklands Bob Melvin.With three weeks left, Markakis could slump and Jones could get hot, and Johnson could amass 50 saves. That might change my thinking.For now, Markakis is the Most Valuable Oriole.NOTES:-The Sports Legends Museum will be presenting a book signing on Saturday. Marty Appel, a longtime Yankees executive and author of Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss, will discuss his book at 12:30 p.m.Julia Ruth Stevens, Babe Ruths 96-year-old daughter, will be on hand at 2:30 p.m. for stories and autographs. A block party, celebrating the Yankees-Orioles series featuring an all you can eat and drink event will be held between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. Tickets, which include admission to the game are 65. Fans who already have game tickets can attend for 36.

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

Cal Ripken Jr.'s 25-acre, 8,545 square-foot home went up for auction this past Saturday and the highest bidder was......Adam Jones? 

The center fielder is purchasing the Orioles legend's former Reisterstown, Md. estate, according to The Athletic

Placed on the market in 2016 for $12.5 million, Ripken reduced the price to $9.7 million last year but was still unable to find a willing buyer. The estate was eventually put up for auction and sold to Jones for an undisclosed amount. 

The six bedroom home has 10 full bathrooms, a movie theater, a gym that overlooks an indoor basketball court, a pool and a baseball field with batting cages, a locker room and soaking tubs. One of the tubs was taken from Memorial Stadium and used by Johnny Unitas and Art Donovan, but Ripken is keeping that one. 

What makes this purchase even more interesting is that Jones will become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, but that does not mean he plans on re-signing with the team. The 32-year old, who is in his last year of a six-year $85.5 million contract, is known to dip his toes in real estate investments and his wife, Audie Fugett, is a Baltimore native. 

The deal is scheduled to close on June 11. 


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David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense


David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense

BOSTON -- One strike away from a four-hit shutout, David Price happily settled for a complete game and his strongest outing of the season.

Price struck out eight and held Baltimore to five hits, including two in the ninth when the Orioles broke up the shutout before the Boston left-hander finished them off in a 6-2 victory for the Red Sox on Thursday night.

"He was amazing," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "He was outstanding. You saw it. Bad swings, up, down, in and out, changeup, cutter, sinkers ... that was fun to watch."

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer in the first, and Xander Bogaerts homered with two on during a four-run fifth, giving Price more than enough cushion against the struggling Orioles.

Price (4-4) struck out eight and didn't walk a batter while winning consecutive starts for the first time this season. He cruised through the first eight innings before Andrew Susac led off the ninth with a double, the first Baltimore player to reach second base in the game.

Manny Machado spoiled the shutout bid with a two-out homer, but Price finished off Baltimore on Jonathan Schoop's pop-up to center as the Red Sox improved to 4-0 against Baltimore by taking the makeup game that was rained out on Patriots' Day.

"They're a free-swinging team," said Price, who threw just 95 pitches. "You can go out there and do that or you can go out there for three innings and give up a bunch of runs."

Danny Valencia had a pair of hits for the punchless Orioles, who have lost three of four and have the second-fewest wins in the American League. Valencia nearly had a double in the fifth, but got thrown out at second by left fielder Andrew Benintendi, one of several strong defensive plays that helped Price go the distance.

Hanley Ramirez also caught a foul pop on the top step of Boston's dugout in the second and Mookie Betts ran down a fly ball that was headed to the wall in right.

"The defensive plays that I had today, it makes everything a lot easier," Price said.

Kevin Gausman (3-3) went 4 2/3 innings for Baltimore, allowing six runs and eight hits while striking out six and walking two. He was pulled after Bogaerts drove a high fastball out to left with two men on during Boston's four-run fifth.

"We just got into some sticky situations where we just had to dig ourselves out of a hole and we just couldn't," Susac said.

The Orioles also weren't happy with the strike zone, which Susac said forced Gausman to throw some pitches the Red Sox pounced upon.

Manager Buck Showalter agreed with his catcher.

"I'm very biased, but I didn't think he got a fair shake tonight," Showalter said. "There were a lot of pitches that could have and should have gone his way."