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Despite arguments, Orioles take series from Blue Jays

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Despite arguments, Orioles take series from Blue Jays

BALTIMORE – If you listened to Buck Showalter closely, you might have thought the Orioles lost Thursday night’s game. His star catcher, who rarely argues, was ejected from the game, his team left 13 runners on base, and still they won.

Not only did they win, but they took two of three against the Toronto Blue Jays, a team that captured the AL East a year after the Orioles did.

All Thursday night the Orioles complained about home plate umpire Dan Bellino’s strike zone, and in the fifth inning, Matt Wieters was ejected for the second time in his career.

The Orioles rallied in the eighth and pulled out a 3-2 win over the Blue Jays before 17,644 at Oriole Park.

“That was a challenge. It was a frustrating game to manage,” Showalter said. “A tough night. A frustrating game for me.”

With the game tied at 2, Joey Rickard singled with one out off Brett Cecil (0-3). He advanced to second on Russell Martin’s passed ball and came home when Manny Machado plopped a double down the right field line.

Darren O’Day (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth, walking Jose Bautista, but striking out the side for the win.

Zach Britton pitched the ninth for his fourth save, and the Orioles (10-4) took two of three from Toronto (8-9).

“We all know how this division's going to be. You know how good that team is, and every team in this division's going to be good,” Machado said.

Before the winning eighth inning, the biggest moment came when Wieters, was ejected by Bellino for arguing about a checked swing in the fifth inning and replaced by Caleb Joseph.

“I don’t like to get them, but I said some things I probably shouldn’t have. He just hit a nerve a little bit, especially the checked swing because they do have the option to get help. It was just, I thought it was a little bit inconsistent behind the plate for most of the night,” Wieters said.

“It’s just hard when you know your pitchers out there battling to be able to try and at least know where to go to get a strike called and kind of hit or miss a little bit.”

The first inning looked to be the precursor of an evening full of runs, but that turned out not to be the case.

Michael Saunders led off with a single off Chris Tillman. Josh Donaldson’s double scored Saunders. With first and second and one out, Rickard made a leaping catch in front of the left field wall to snatch Troy Tulowitzki’s fly ball and save perhaps two runs.

But, Tillman loaded the bases when he hit Martin, and walked Justin Smoak to force in a second run.

The 21-minute inning ended on Tillman’s 38th pitch, an infield out by Kevin Pillar.

The Orioles also roughed up Toronto starter Marco Estrada in the first. Rickard singled, and stole second. He’s reached base in all 14 games of his major league career and had consecutive three-hit nights.

Rickard scored on Machado’s single. Machado has hit in 14 straight games, equaling the longest in his career. Adam Jones doubled, and Chris Davis walked to load the bases.

Mark Trumbo took a disputed called third strike, and Wieters grounded into a double play to end the first.

“I thought that was a big inning for us until we got Ball 4 called a strike,” Showalter said.

Tillman settled in, allowing only two more hits, and ending his night with a quality start: two runs on four hits in six innings.

“I think I just continued to make my pitches. Didn’t go our way in the first inning, but that’s what happens when you’re not throwing strikes,” Tillman said.

The Orioles had repeated scoring opportunities, and though they objected to Bellino’s strike zone and flailed away, finally tied the score in the seventh against switch-pitcher Pat Venditte.

Davis walked to lead off the seventh, Trumbo was hit by a pitch and Joseph singled to load the bases. Hardy’s sacrifice fly to center tied the score at 2.

NOTES: Dylan Bundy struck out Pillar for the first strikeout of his career in the seventh inning. “It’s been four years to get one strikeout in the majors. It’s been a while. But it was nice to get that out of the way. I’ve actually thought about it the last two outings, I remembered I don’t have a strikeout but I’ve got a couple walks,” Bundy said. … Davis walked a career high four times. … Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 5.63) face Chris Young (0-3, 7.90) on Friday night as the Orioles begin a three-game series in Kansas City. … The Orioles are 3-0 when they don’t hit a home run.

MORE ORIOLES: Matt Wieters ejected from Orioles game

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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.