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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.

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Orioles avoid three-game sweep with 2-1 win over Blue Jays

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Orioles avoid three-game sweep with 2-1 win over Blue Jays

One night after setting a dubious record for losses, the Baltimore Orioles were ready to savor a rare win against a division rival.

Rookie DJ Stewart hit his first major league home run and Baltimore used five pitchers to avoid a three-game sweep by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 Wednesday night.

The Orioles bounced back one night after taking their 108th loss of the season, the most since moving to Baltimore in 1954. They remained three away from the franchise mark set by the 1939 St. Louis Browns.

"I was thinking about it tonight how many times I walked down that long hall to get here after a great win, trying to temper the enthusiasm," manager Buck Showalter said. "I still feel elated after we win a game and then I think about all the good things that went on, especially defensively tonight."

Jimmy Yacabonis started for Baltimore and threw four scoreless innings, followed by Mike Wright (4-2), who blanked the Blue Jays over two innings. Miguel Castro allowed a solo homer to Billy McKinney in the eighth that cut the lead to 2-1 before Tanner Scott managed the final out of the inning.

Mychal Givens picked up his eighth save for Baltimore.

Stewart, who was promoted Sept. 11 from Triple-A Norfolk, gave the Orioles the lead when he led off the third with a towering shot off Estrada that caromed off the right-field foul pole. He also had a double in the seventh and scored an insurance run on a single by Cedric Mullins off Tim Mayza.

"I've felt comfortable every at-bat pretty much," Stewart said. "I think there was one at bat I kind of went up there chasing a little bit, just trying to get that hit. I felt comfortable for the most part, but whenever you see one fall for the first time, it's a little bit of a relief that not only are you feeling well but you're seeing the results also. It was definitely big for me."

Toronto won the season series 14-5.

"Any chance you have to try and sweep a team is a big one," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We have had a pretty tough year ourselves so you try to build and win as many games as you can."

The Blue Jays' Marco Estrada (7-13) bounced back from his previous outing when he tied a career-high by allowing eight runs against the Yankees. He was charged with one run and four hits with five strikeouts and one walk over six innings.

"It was a good outing. I made a lot of good pitches," Estrada said. "One got away from me and the kid hit it out, Congrats to him. Weren't too many hard hit balls."

The Blue Jays loaded the bases in the fourth against Yacabonis, who was making his fifth career start. However, he escaped the jam when Kendrys Morales hit a fly ball to Adam Jones, who threw out McKinney trying to score from third. It was Jones' 99th career assist and first in right field.

YOUTH MOVEMENT

Blue Jays C Russell Martin has not played since Sept. 3. Manager John Gibbons wants to give Luke Maile and rookie Danny Jansen an extended look behind the plate.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Rookie C Chance Sisco will not travel with the team to New York. He took a foul ball off his mask Sunday against the White Sox and is still waiting to be cleared from concussion protocol.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: Sam Gaviglio will start the opener Thursday in Tampa Bay. He has gone 1-8 since July 20 and lost both games against the Rays this season.

Orioles: Rookie Yefry Ramirez (1-6, 5.50 ERA) will make his 11th start Friday in New York. He tied a career high with seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings Saturday against the White Sox.