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Adam Jones is making Orioles fans proud with play after amazing play at World Baseball Classic

Adam Jones is making Orioles fans proud with play after amazing play at World Baseball Classic

Team USA is headed to the World Baseball Classic for the first time ever (!).

After a 2-1 victory over two-time WBC winner Japan, Team USA will play Puerto Rico Wednesday night for the title. Marcus Stroman is set to start for Team USA and Seth Lugo will do the same for Puerto Rico.

The standout playmaker for the Americans has been Orioles pie-thrower Adam Jones. Jones, a five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove award winner, has dropped some jaws with huge plays that helped push Team USA to the finals.

Against Colombia in the first round, Jones hit a walk-off single that allowed Christian Yelich to score from third and lifted Team USA to a 3-2 victory in the tenth inning. His walk-off during Friday night's game in Miami is only the third in WBC history for Team USA. The other two came from David Wright and Alex Rodriguez.

Moving onto Saturday night's contest against the Dominican Republic, Jones made the highlight play of the 2017 WBC. In his hometown of San Diego, Jones robbed fellow Oriole Manny Machado of a monstrous home run. Nearly leaping into the stands, Jones somehow snagged the should-have-been-gone ball.

After the catch, Team USA pitcher Tyler Clippard could be seen on video mouthing “Oh my God,” while Machado couldn’t help but tip his hat to Jones as he ran back to the dugout. Team USA would go on to beat the Dominican Republic 6-3 and advance to the semi-finals.

The Orioles star told MLB.com that even he was stunned when he caught the ball.

I'm still in kind of shock that I even got to that ball ... I mean, off the bat I'm just like this ball's hit really far, so just keep going, keep going. You know this California air's going to slow it down, and just never quit. That's just the style I play with. I don't mind running into a wall or two.

The stats on that catch are pretty shocking, too. According to Statcast, Jones plays as shallow as any outfielder does, usually at 307 feet from the plate. However, on this play he was 321 feet out, helping him run down the ball with a leaping grab.

Statcast calculates that the ball left Machado's bat at a velocity of 106.2 mph and a launch angle of 26 degrees. Those numbers combined gives a batter a 95% chance of a hit and a 90% chance of a home run. But Machado's odds didn't mean much with Jones roaming center field. 

After beating the Dominican Republic, Team USA moved on to play Japan Tuesday night and, for the third time, Jones made the difference. At the top of the eighth with the score tied at 1 apiece, he hit a go-ahead RBI which bounced off the glove of Japan’s third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda, giving Brandon Crawford extra time to score before throwing Jones out at first. Team USA went on to beat WBC heavyweight Japan, 2-1. 

If you have watched any of the WBC games, you can see just how much fun Jones is having throughout the series. Hopefully, the good times will keep rolling for Team USA as they play for the title tonight at 9 p.m. at Dodger Stadium.

RELATED: ORIOLES' ZACH BRITTON HOPES TO DUPLICATED GREAT 2016 SEASON

 

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

The Orioles have finally found their man.

After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.

Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.

Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
 
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”

Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.

Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.

Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.

Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.

The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.

Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.

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Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

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USA Today Sports

Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

Orioles new general manager Mike Elias is a busy man out in Las Vegas. Not only is he looking to add much needed talent to Baltimore's roster but he is also searching for a new manager. Elias interviewed six candidates, including Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, for the vacancy. On Monday, Elias said they were “pretty far along in the process.”

Then the reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Orioles had found their man. 

For a second straight year, Joe Maddon's bench coach has landed a managerial job (Davey Martinez). 

But, in the words of College Gameday's Lee Corso "Not so fast my friend!"

Does that mean Hyde is not the manager? Not necessarily. It likely means Elias wants the news to come out on his terms.