Orioles

Marrone has another winning homecoming with Orange

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Marrone has another winning homecoming with Orange

NEW YORK (AP) Doug Marrone completed his fourth season at Syracuse with another successful homecoming, and hoped it wouldn't be the last time he brings his team to the Bronx.

``You're right, I should play more games in the Borough of the Bronx,'' the Orange coach said after Syracuse beat West Virginia 38-14 in the Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday at Yankee Stadium. ``It's very special for me.

``But for me to talk about what's special for me today really does not put into perspective how I feel,'' he added. ``We have a lot of players from this area, a lot of players whose families can't make that trip up to Syracuse for games, but they were able to come.''

Marrone, a former Syracuse player and NFL assistant, took over a program that had crumbled into one of the worst in the BCS-automatic qualifying conferences in four terrible seasons under Greg Robinson.

In Marrone's first three seasons, he managed one winning record in 2010 and Syracuse followed up that hopeful season by losing its last five games in 2011 to finish 5-7.

When the Orange started this season 2-4 there was speculation about Marrone's job security, though athletic director Daryl Gross never wavered from his support of the 46-year-old coach.

Gross' confidence was rewarded. The Orange finished the season with six wins in their final seven games, a share of the Big East title in their last season in the conference, and their second bowl victory at Yankee Stadium in the past three years.

Marrone had a hard time pinpointing what made this team finish so strong after last year's stumbled down the stretch. He talked about the leadership his players showed and the closeness of his team.

He was clear about his affection for playing in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Coaches tend not to enjoy bowl trips the way players do, but earlier this week Marrone acknowledged taking a moment to appreciate how far he has come while speaking to some school-aged kids from the Bronx during a short football clinic with his players at Yankee Stadium.

``Here you are, you look to the left and you see young kids form the Bronx there,'' he said. ``When I look at them I see part of my life going by. I was once just like these kids.

``And I look to my right and there's the Syracuse football team and I say to myself that was a point in my life when I was fortunate enough to play for Coach (Dick) MacPherson.

``Out of all the things that I have pretty much done in my life, I would say from the standpoint of sports, people will laugh, it's probably the greatest moment personally, because it's life come full circle.''

The next step for Syracuse and Marrone is the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Orange will join their new conference with a team in transition in a few key areas.

An offense that was among the most potent in the country will have to replace quarterback Ryan Nassib, both starting receivers, and very possibly star tackle Justin Pugh, who has another year left of eligibility but could enter the NFL draft.

Five defensive starters are seniors, including All-Big East safety Shamarko Thomas.

Among the key players expected back are running backs Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, who helped the Orange run for more than 300 yards against West Virginia. Gulley's 208 yards rushing were the second-most for a Syracuse player in a bowl game, eight yards shy of Floyd Little's school record set in 1966 Gator Bowl against Tennessee.

On the defensive side, Syracuse should be loaded at linebacker next season with Marquis Spruill, Cameron Lynch and Dyshawn Davis all coming back.

The speculation about Marrone has now turned from whether he will keep his job to whether an NFL team tries to lure him away.

The coach didn't want to address any of that Saturday night, instead basking in another Bronx bowl victory.

``You know, I think it's special,'' he said. ``It's become - winning the one, it's become a special place for all of us and it's always been a special place.''

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Orioles clean house, fire 11 members of scouting and front office departments

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Orioles clean house, fire 11 members of scouting and front office departments

Baltimore Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias is dedicated to altering the direction of the organization and that was reciprocated Friday with the firing of 11 members of the scouting and front office departments.  

"We're in a period of change right now with the industry and we're in a period of change right now with the Orioles," Elias said. "Sometimes to make changes you've got to make changes."

Among those relieved were baseball operations director Tripp Norton, scouts Dean Albany, Jim Howard, John Gillette, Nathan Showalter, and Buck Showalter. 

Elias acknowledged the uphill battle ahead of filling numerous voids but insists it's just a part of the job 

"We're going to be very busy bringing people into this organization," he said. "This is just the organization moving along and adapting to the sport today."

Just one day removed from a judge confirming that the Orioles owe the Nationals nearly $300 million, Elias insisted this move isn't to save money.

"There are changes going on in the scouting business in terms of greater availability of information in general, video and data," Elias said. "There are instances where we will replace people's roles kind of man for man, head for head, spot for spot, but there's other instances where we're reconfiguring the way the scouts go about their business."

The O's will look completely different from this point out and players won't be the only changes.

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Sleep-deprived Nationals win one they probably shouldn’t have in Chicago behind Aníbal Sánchez

Sleep-deprived Nationals win one they probably shouldn’t have in Chicago behind Aníbal Sánchez

The clubhouse wears have never been packed so quickly. Washington was sprinting as a group to get out of Pittsburgh on Thursday night following another three-hour-plus game with a 1:20 p.m. local start looming in Wrigley Field on Friday.

Max Scherzer finished his postgame comments in less than four minutes, then quickly moved to get cleaned up and join the others. Most lockers were vacant by the time media members reached the clubhouse, which wasn’t long after the game ended. 

Despite the scramble for minutes saved, Friday was supposed to be a loss. Las Vegas knew. The players and management knew. It was a bad spot. Night game, onto a plane, then a day game against a team which played at home the previous afternoon, and was 44-19 there -- the second-best home record in the National League. 

And yet, Nationals 9, Cubs 3, and it wasn’t that close.

Some bloops fell, some situations turned out lucky. Though, Aníbal Sánchez dominated. No voodoo or charms were involved.

He went through 8 ⅓ innings before being removed after 112 pitches. He was provided a shot to finish the game -- just 15 National League pitchers have a complete game this season -- but couldn’t. A rare Anthony Rendon throwing error cost him an out, then his opportunity for a solo close to the afternoon in Chicago.

Sánchez threw 31 four-seam fastballs, 31 cutters and 28 “splitters” among his 112 pitches. He worked as a marionettist, pulling strings to change positions and outcomes throughout the day. Matt Grace finished the game. No high-end reliever was used, resetting a bullpen which had to cover five innings in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

The offense beat up Jon Lester. He didn’t make it out of the fifth inning. Everyone in the lineup -- including Sánchez -- picked up a hit. Trea Turner’s single extended his on-base streak to 30 games.

Sánchez’s work piggybacked on what the other starters did against woeful Pittsburgh. Nationals starters have allowed two earned runs in the first five games of this seven-game road trip. The offense has averaged 8.2 runs in that span. It’s hard to fathom they lost once with both sides operating in such fashion.

All of this is just a continuation of a massive turnaround. Washington is 52-26 since its nadir May 24. Only the Dodgers -- who host the Yankees on Friday night -- have a better record in that span, and by just a half-game. They have won 10 of 12 and 13 of 17. Fivethirtyeight.com now gives the Nationals a 90 percent chance to make the postseason (this includes the wild-card game).

Wins like Friday emphatically move that needle. The Cubs are trying to wind their way into the postseason. They were also set up for a clear advantage thanks to the schedule. Instead, Sánchez, throwing as slow as 68 mph and as fast as 91, controlled the day, the offense rolled through the afternoon and everyone was ready for bed after a surprise win.

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