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Matusz stepping up for Orioles in new role


Matusz stepping up for Orioles in new role

Brian Matusz has re-invented himself in a short period of time.
He spent much of 2012 working as a struggling starter. The left-hander had a 5-10 record and a 5.42 ERA in 16 starts before being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on July 1. Matusz worked on a lot with the Tides and when the Orioles recalled him on Aug. 24, they moved the left-hander into the bullpen.
Now, hes become a weapon for manager Buck Showalter. That showed up again Monday night as Matusz helped the Orioles edge the Yankees, 3-2, in Game 2 of their ALDS before a sold-out and rocking Camden Yards.
He came on with two outs in the seventh inning and got Nick Swisher to end the inning. Matusz had to intentionally walk Robinson Cano and threw a wild pitch that put runners on second and third before Swisher flied out. Matusz wound up throwing 1 13 scoreless innings.
Matusz said he now considers himself a relief pitcher. The left-hander now has pitched in both games versus the Yankees. Hes thrown 2 13 scoreless innings, struck out four and walked two (one intentionally) and been very effective throughout. Matusz ended the regular season with a 1.35 ERA in 18 games, stranding all 14 runners
Im just rolling with it and having fun with it, Matusz said. Right now, being in the playoffs, coming out with a big win here, doesnt get much more fun than that.
Matusz said that being a relief pitcher now makes him do some things differently, but it hasnt been any problem. He just comes to the park every day waiting to be ready to pitch if Showalter calls on him.
Im still the same guy, Matusz said. Just getting the work and the experience out there at the end of the regular season and just carrying it over to the post-season. I want to keep this thing rolling. Its nice to be able to have good outings. My focus is on the next game, to be ready when Buck calls on me.
Catcher Matt Wieters said Matusz really hasnt changed much. Hes just in a different situation now, which kind of makes him alter how he does some things, but the catcher likes what hes seen of Matusz in late innings.
He comes out there with the right mind-set, Wieters said. He comes out there ready to go, and sort of laying everything on the line for one inning. He's going out there and using all his stuff. Brian, even when he was starting and not throwing as well against everybody, still pitched well against left-handers.
Thats been the key role for Matusz, shutting down left-handers. Hes now also shutting down some right-handers, using his good control to make good pitches all the time and working with Darren ODay to kind of take over the set-up role from a struggling Pedro Strop.
Strop had been serving as the set-up guy for Jim Johnson for much of the season before having trouble in September. Now, the combination of ODay and Matusz has been working nicely for the Orioles in that spot in the several games last few weeks, especially during these early playoff games.
ODays been tough against right-handed batters like Alex Rodriguez, whom the submariner struck out again in this game. Matusz then comes in often against lefties and takes care of them.
As a reliever, my focus now is just come in, attack the zone, throw strikes and throw my best stuff, Matusz said. Its a lot more fun coming to work every day knowing I have the possibility of getting in.
And finding success.

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Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

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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."

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

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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.


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.


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.


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.