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Showalter turns Orioles around in two years

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Showalter turns Orioles around in two years

Buck Showalter has been the Orioles manager for exactly two years now, and the team hardly resembles the one he took over on Aug. 2, 2010.Showalter has managed exactly two seasons in Baltimore. Hes 158-166. Three months ago he achieved his 1,000th career win as a manager, and this weekend hell likely suffer his 1,000th defeat. He says hes not much into records, but two years in, lets examine his.That 158-166. Its one game better than Ray Millers two seasons as manager. Millers 157-167 got him fired after two years, but those were the first two of the 14 losing seasons.Showalters record, unlike Millers is cause for celebration because the fan base feels the club is finally headed in the right direction, whether they qualify for the postseason or not.He was formally introduced on Aug. 2, 2010 and managed his first game a night later.The Orioles won that game and three more. They won eight of their first nine under Showalter, and finished the season 34-23.Only four players on the 25-man roster the night he began are still with him: Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters and Troy Patton.Jim Johnson was on the disabled list. Brian Roberts played that night, but hasnt played much since. Robert Andino, Chris Tillman and Nolan Reimold were in Norfolk.Two of the starting pitchers on that team, Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz are now back in Norfolk.Most of that team is long gone: Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez, Felix Pie, Luke Scott, Cesar Izturis, Josh Bell and Ty Wiggington.When Showalter took over, he said there were some players he was looking forward to seeing play; some of them were people we wouldnt suspect.Showalter bonded with Jones and Markakis, recognized and promoted Wieters as a budding star and took a trip to Bowie one evening after a late afternoon game, still wearing his uniform just to see Johnson pitch in a rehab start.Andino was buried at Norfolk, taken off the 40-man roster because of a perceived bad attitude, but Showalter saw him as one of his nuggets.Patton was forever being brought up and never used. With no other choice, Showalter finally pitched him for two-thirds of an inning in a late September game.It took another Roberts injury and repeated auditions for Andino and Patton to establish themselves, but it proved that Showalter was malleable enough to give other peoples players a chance.The players he speaks most highly of are his stars: Jones, Wieters, Markakis, Johnson and now J.J. Hardy.Showalters clubhouse seems to be free of politicking, self-promotion and infighting. Those who promoted themselves were jettisoned. He worked well with Andy MacPhail, who hired him, and now hes working well with Dan Duquette, whose temperament couldnt be more different.Showalter has just over a season left on his contract, but after the excellent job hes done, an extension should be forthcoming later this year.Days off are rare. Hes probably spending this one in Sarasota, checking on rehabbing players and the Gulf Coast players.During the four-day All-Star break, he spent one day on the Eastern Shore with his wife. It wasnt a romantic getaway, but a five-hour round-trip to Delmarva to check on Endy Chavez and Taylor Teagarden.It was his first time on the Bay Bridge, and maybe his last. Two-way traffic on the bridge left him shaken.He still doesnt know much about the area, volunteering that he can find the way to the ballpark from his Baltimore County home, but few other places.Showalter is always looking ahead. He has the names, positions and ages of all the teams minor league players on his office wall and has seen nearly all of them play.Hes managed three other teams, but Showalter has already left his indelible mark on the Orioles.This is my last stop, he assured me during spring training 2011. Hes compared with Earl Weaver, though Showalter hasnt reached a World Series. They were both short and both fighters, though Weaver got tossed out of games often and Showalter averages just about two ejections a season.Weaver was finished as Orioles manager for the second team at 56, Showalters age now. While he often will talk about next spring trainings schedule with an if Im still here, it would be shocking if he wasnt.The constant talk about appreciating a moment isnt all act. Hes watched contemporaries like Joe Torre, Cito Gaston, Bobby Cox, Lou Piniella and Tony LaRussa go in the past few years. Hes not close to leaving.The betting here is that there will be many more anniversaries, and the most popular Orioles manager since Weaver will become more popular still.

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Trumbo homers twice, drives in 5 as Orioles beat Rangers 9-6

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Trumbo homers twice, drives in 5 as Orioles beat Rangers 9-6

 Mark Trumbo could have looked around the diamond at his Orioles teammates and wondered, "Who are these guys?"

With veterans Adam Jones and Chris Davis out of the starting lineup, Trumbo alone represented experience on a young, struggling team.

The slugger homered twice and drove in five runs, and Baltimore beat the Texas Rangers 9-6 in a back-and-forth game Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

"There's a few of us guys that have been around a little longer than most," Trumbo said. "The production comes and goes, but the mindset is the big thing, and I think these guys are doing a good job."

Entering the series, Trumbo hadn't gone deep since July 9. He completed the four games 7 for 16 with three homers and nine RBIs as Baltimore totaled 21 runs.

Austin Wynns and Jonathan Villar also homered for the Orioles.

Trumbo singled home a run in the first inning. His two-run homer in the third put Baltimore ahead to stay at 6-5 against starter Drew Hutchison (1-2), who was making his Rangers debut.

"Just pitch execution, poor command, too many balls up in the zone," Hutchison said. "When you do things like that, those are the results that you're going to have."

Both of Trumbo's homers came with two strikes.

"I've been getting to two strikes a lot lately and still getting some hits," he said. "I hit a changeup (from Hutchison), and I put some good wood on it."

The teams had scored in every half-inning before that, with the lead changing hands in four of those.

Trumbo left the game after his two-run homer against Matt Moore in the seventh.

"(Trumbo) almost didn't play today," Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "His knee's been a little sore. I noticed running around the bases on the second home run."

Another difference was Baltimore's beleaguered bullpen, which allowed only one run and one hit in 7 1/3 innings.

Tanner Scott (2-2), the second of six Orioles pitchers, shut out Texas for 2 1/3 innings, which tied his longest major league outing. He relieved starter Yefry Ramirez with the bases loaded and two outs in the second and struck out Ronald Guzman.

Mychal Givens retired the final four batters for his second save.

Jace Peterson led off the game with a single and scored on Trumbo's single for a short-lived 1-0 lead.

Ramirez retired the first two Rangers hitters but gave up a triple to Elvis Andrus. After two walks loaded the bases, Robinson Chirinos singled home two runs.

The Orioles regained the lead at 4-2 in the second on a three-run homer by Wynns, the No. 9 batter.

The Rangers scored three runs in the bottom half on Shin-Soo Choo's sacrifice fly, Andrus' groundout and a broken-bat single by Joey Gallo for a 5-4 advantage.

Gallo and Rougned Odor homered in each of the first three games of the series, but their streaks were stopped on Sunday.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Davis didn't play for a second straight game. Showalter said, "He's banged up a little bit. We're going to give him the benefit of another day and the off day Monday." ... Showalter said it's likely that OF Craig Gentry, who has missed six weeks because of a fractured rib, will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Double-A Bowie. ... INF Steve Wilkerson (strained left oblique), who hasn't played since July 1, could go on a rehab assignment Thursday.

UP AND DOWN AGAIN

To make room for Hutchison on the roster, the Rangers optioned RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx to Triple-A Round Rock for the third time this season.

JUST KEEP HITTING

Andrus extended his hitting streak to 16 games, equaling a career best. It's also the longest current run in the majors.

UP NEXT

Orioles: Begin a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Alex Cobb (3-14, 5.83 ERA) will start against Rays newcomer Tyler Glasnow (1-2, 4.27).

Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-4, 6.50) pitches Monday as Texas hosts Seattle and LHP Wade LeBlanc (6-2, 3.95) to begin a three-game series.

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Adam Jones helps Little League team with $8.5K donation

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Adam Jones helps Little League team with $8.5K donation

Adam Jones continues to be one of baseball's Good Dudes. 

Jones, who's been recognized before for his philanthropic efforts around Baltimore, made headlines recently when he donated $8.5 thousand dollars to the Mamie Johnson Little League team. 

Mamie Johnson are headed to the Mid-Atlantic Finals of the Little League World Series qualifying tournament but needed $10k in travel assistance to get there. That's where Jones, who orginally learned of the team on Twitter, stepped in: 

When asked about his donation, Jones said, "I want to see the next generation get an opportunity to succeed. Me being a black man trying to integrate more African-Americans into baseball, this was a no-brainer.''

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