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Orioles rookie shows he has the Wright stuff in MLB debut

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Orioles rookie shows he has the Wright stuff in MLB debut

BALTIMORE –- Mike Wright started his day by reading a Harry Potter novel. He ended it by walking off the mound to an enormous ovation.

Wright made his major league debut an unforgettable one by pitching 7 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed just four hits, struck out six and didn’t walk a batter as the Orioles beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-0 before 41,733 at Oriole Park on Sunday.

He was pitching because Chris Tillman’s back stiffened up. Wright, who was recalled on Tuesday, but hadn’t pitched, learned Saturday that he’d be pitching instead of Tillman.

“That’s everything you dream of going into it, and it was really fun,” Wright said.

After Wright had thrown 90 pitches, manager Buck Showalter hopped to the mound and called for Brad Brach. It was time for Wright to bask in the cheers.

“I knew what to do. I knew to walk back into the dugout, but I just wanted to kind of savor it. Most of the advice I got was that you only make your debut once. There’s plenty of games, but you only make your debut once, so soak it all in and that’s definitely what I tried to do, I tried to, you know, like look up and see what was going on so I could make sure I remember that forever,” Wright said.

He retired his first nine batters, striking out three. Mike Trout, the game’s second batter, was his first. In the fourth, Wright faced his only real trouble when Kole Calhoun singled to center, and with one out, Albert Pujols doubled. Erick Aybar grounded to third, and Manny Machado threw him to nab Calhoun in a rundown. He ended the inning with a strikeout of Johnny Giavotella.

“That was amazing. Honestly, that ball Pujols hit I thought was gone. I missed with a fastball but when that stayed in I was like, ‘I really need to get through this and that was one of my really good sliders (for) a strikeout in that inning. So I was pretty pumped about that,” Wright said.

Wright (1-0) retired eight straight before Aybar singled with one out in the seventh, but Giavotella hit into a double play.

After Wright struck out David Freese to start the eighth, Joyce singled, and Showalter went to the bullpen for Brad Brach, and the cheers began.

“I was trying to tell J.J. [Hardy], it's safe to say they aren't yelling for me. They're probably unhappy about [him] coming out of the game. When you stop getting your hair to stand up and goose bumps, you need to go do something else. You're lucky to be there for that. Hopefully we can say we were there for his first outing one day,” Showalter said.

Brach struck out Carlos Perez and Marc Krauss to end the eighth.

Zach Britton retired Los Angeles (19-18) in the ninth for his eighth save, but not before Pujols and Aybar singled with two outs.

Before the game, Showalter spoke of his hopes for Wright.

“He wants to pitch a shutout and make us not send him back out. I got it. I want him to, too,” Showalter said.

Five hours later, Showalter joked when asked about Wright’s future.

“Well, he didn't pitch a complete game, so he's out of here. No. We'll look at it, we'll start talking about it,” Showalter said.

Tillman probably won’t pitch until at least Thursday. Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen will pitch the first two games against Seattle on Tuesday and Wednesday though Showalter hedged slightly on Chen.

Bud Norris, who was scratched from Saturday’s game with bronchitis, has lost considerable weight, but was in the bullpen for an emergency.

The Orioles (16-19) scored the only run Wright needed in the fourth when Adam Jones had an infield single with one out. He moved to third on Delmon Young’s single and scored on a wild pitch by Garrett Richards (3-2).

In the eighth, Machado singled with two outs, Jimmy Paredes beat out an infield single and Jones doubled to left to score two, and the Orioles led 3-0.

The runs were big. Wright’s outing was bigger.

“I’ve seen him pitch in spring training. I’ve seen him pitch against a lot of good hitters. What I’m impressed with the fact that he went out there and went 7 1/3 innings,” Jones said. “He was economical. He threw strikes. He kept the defense in the game.”

NOTES: According to STATS, Wright is the first Orioles starter to win his major league debut at home since Jake Arrieta on June 10, 2010. … The Orioles have rescheduled their May 28 doubleheader. The first game starts at 1:05 p.m. … Orioles pitchers haven’t walked a batter in their last two games for the first time since Aug. 1-3, 2010.

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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.

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.