Matching a 37-year-old mark on defense, plus some power emerges in the AFL

Last night, the Orioles became the first American League team since the 2002-03 Seattle Mariners to win at least three Gold Gloves in consecutive seasons. Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones took home the hardware.

That is strong stuff.

From 1977 to 2011, the Orioles won three Gold Gloves in one season just once, in 1998. From 2000-2008, the Orioles won a total of zero Gold Gloves.

Before last night, the last time an Orioles team won three or more Gold Gloves in back-to-back years was 1975-76.

The great O’s teams of yesteryear were built on pitching and defense. While the O’s only have half of that equation resolved right now, they do indeed have a great defense.

Last night, some of that Orioles history was not lost on O’s executive vice president Dan Duquette.

“On a historical basis, you can look at J.J. taking his place among the great Orioles shortstops, Mark Belanger and Cal Ripken,” Duquette said. “Now we have three that have a couple of Gold Gloves. Manny joins Brooks Robinson as a Gold Glover and that gives the pitching staff tremendous comfort with such a great defensive side of the infield with J.J. and Manny.”

Manager Buck Showalter, while extremely proud of his players, also threw some praise Bobby Dickerson’s way. Dickerson was the O’s third base and infield coach this year, getting his first big league coaching job after 20 years in the minors.

“If you know Bobby, it’s all about credit for J.J. and Manny,” Showalter said. “But I’ve seen him there at 11 o’clock in the morning going through charts to put everybody in their best position, as he said, to take full use of their skills. I know Bobby has a big smile on his face today.”

Hardy talked about the excellent and record-setting team defense for the Orioles and also his own ability to play at such a high level of defense night after night.

“It is getting in a routine and sticking with it,” Hardy said. “A lot of it is focus through 27 outs and every pitch and being ready for anything. I don’t think I’ve been a part of something like this. It was pretty special.”

Power supply: In 58 at-bats for the Orioles this season, 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia had just one extra-base hit. Now he has five in his last six games in the Arizona Fall League.

At the moment, Hammerin’ Hank is starting to live up to his nickname.

Urrutia, who hit a two-run homer for Surprise last night, is 11-for-27 (.407) with three doubles, two homers and seven RBIs over his last six games. In 11 games overall, Urrutia is batting .400 with two homers and eight RBIs. He has homered twice in the last four games.

Urrutia’s .625 slugging percentage ranks tied for third in the AFL and he is third with a 1.092 OPS. It is a positive sign for a hitter who struggled to hit anything more than singles in the AL this season.

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