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Markakis remembers Olympic experience

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Markakis remembers Olympic experience

NEW YORK Nick Markakis remembers it well. Eight years ago, he was in Athens. It was the first time Greece fielded an Olympic baseball team, and Markakis was there.With the blessing of Orioles owner Peter Angelos, Markakis missed the final month of the 2004 season to join the Greek Olympic team. Hed been the teams first-round draft pick the year before and left Delmarva a month early to train with the Greeks.Few of the names on the team are recognizable. Markakis was by far the most well-known, but longtime utility infielder Clay Bellinger and catchers Erik Pappas and George Kottaras, whos now with Oakland, were also on the team.In July 2004, Markakis played for the first time at Oriole Park when the Greek team played an exhibition game against Canada, and he even got to pitch.He probably wont pitch there again.Markakis had never been to Greece before, and hasnt been since, but his wife would like to visit.Eight years later in the middle of a playoff race, Markakis has only good things to say about his Olympic experience.Besides being in the big leagues, definitely the second best highlight of my career. It was awesome being in the Olympic Village, living there with the best athletes in the world, Markakis said.I play with some of the best athletes in this country. Being around the best athletes from all over the world, it was pretty special. I had an awesome time when I was there.Because Greece was the host country, it automatically qualified. Seven other teams, Japan, Canada, Cuba, the U.S., the Netherlands, Chinese Tapei and Italy joined the Greeks.
Greeces team was treated as a novelty, but it did win a game, beating Italy. They finished 1-6, but two of their losses were close ones: 5-4 to Cuba, which won the Gold Medal and 2-0 to Canada.The Greeks beat Italy 12-7 and Markakis hit a three-run home run.Markakis remembers that Japan took its team seriously, fielding a team with an estimated 95 million payroll.After three-and-a-half weeks in Greece, Markakis had a .346 average, six RBIs, 2 13 innings on the mound against Chinese Tapei and a lifetime of wonderful memories.They put together a baseball team, and Im glad that they did ask me. I had an unbelievable experience, Markakis said.I dont think I can take one negative thing from that trip. I loved every minutes of it.The Olympics are usually on in the clubhouse before the games, and Markakis watches with a knowing eye.The coolest part is that I can look on television and I know what theyre going through, Markakis said I know what theyre doing out there, what kind of experience theyre having. I know the concept and the setup they have out there. A lot of people dont have that.Baseball is no longer in the Olympics. Some believe the International Olympic Committee wanted a sport that was predominantly American out. Others think its because Major League Baseball wont interrupt its season as the NHL does to allow the best players to participate.Many baseball people dont miss the Olympics. They have the money-making World Baseball Classic, which features the best players in the game and is played in March with the cooperation of MLB.Markakis is sad other baseball players wont have his experience.
It sucks because there are a lot of opportunities for people to go there and play baseball and represent your country, Markakis said.I dont even know what they took it out. I couldnt even tell you why. There could have been opportunities for people to go and experience that, and now thats taken away from them.

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.

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Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

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USA Today Sports Images

Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

Days after being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that captivated much of Major League Baseball, former Oriole Manny Machado took to Instagram to thank the only organization he's ever known. 

The 26-year-old's contract expires at the end of this season, which the Orioles chose not to renew as the last-place club enters a rebuilding phase. 

Machado put up big numbers in the team's first 97 games totaling career-highs in home runs (24), RBIs (65), OBP (.387) and OPS (.962). 

He is expected to play shortstop for a Dodgers club which finished the first half of the season 10 games above .500 in a competitive, tight NL West. 

The Dodgers will pay Machado $6.3 million. 

To my Baltimore family, I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out how I would say goodbye but there wasn’t an easy way to do it. I first joined this organization at the age of 17 and these past eight years have far exceeded anything I ever could’ve imagined. Throughout the ups and downs, you embraced me unconditionally and you took a kid from Miami and brought me up as one of your own. I’ve enjoyed my time here and you all have played a big part in that!! Thank you Birdland! You are forever in my heart! To the Baltimore Orioles, it has truly been a blessing to put on that uniform every day. To the Angelos Family & Dan Duquette, thank you for making my dreams come true!!! To Buck and the coaching staff, thank you for your commitment and dedication to making me the best player and teammate I can possibly be…I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you. To my teammates, we’ve shared some amazing times with lots of memories & friendships that I’ll cherish forever. Schoopy, I love you bro and I know you will carry the torch!!! ! Much love always, Manny #13

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