The final game: Toronto at Orioles

The final game:  Toronto at Orioles
Game Preview Toronto (75-86) at Orioles (63-98) Now that they won't end this season losing, say, 20 games in a row or with 100 losses, what's left for the O's to play for in today's 2009 finale? Probably the chance to end the year on a four-game win streak and with a series sweep of Toronto. Today, at 1:35 p.m. the O's host the Blue Jays in the final game of this season. Jeremy Guthrie (10-17, 5.05) faces lefty Ricky Romero (13-9, 4.26).
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Today's pitchers: Guthrie vs. Romero

Today's pitchers:  Guthrie vs. Romero
RHP Jeremy Guthrie (10-17, 5.05) today makes his 33rd start of this season, his 17th at home and the 11th in his career vs. Toronto. Over his last four starts, Guthrie is 0-4, 5.68. In the previous four starts, he went 3-1, 1.33. He leads the American League in losses, earned runs allowed and homers allowed. Guthrie's 17 losses is five more than his previous career high. It ranks him tied for 6th in all-time single season losses by an O's pitcher. A loss today would move him into a tie...
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Checking on the numbers

Checking on the numbers
Brian Roberts got his 30th stolen base in the first inning - check. A couple of batters later, Nick Markakis hit a two-run homer to up his RBI total to 101 - check. Jeremy Guthrie has pitched through the 6th and needs to 7 2/3 innings to hit 200 for his career high - no check yet.
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O's win 5-4 in 11 innings in season finale

O's win 5-4 in 11 innings in season finale
What a wacky way to end a season. With runners on first and second and no outs in the last of the 11th, Jeff Fiorentino dropped a sac bunt. Pitcher Brandon League's throw was low and skipped off the first baseman's glove, allowing Michael Aubrey to score from second with the winning run. The O's celebrated an 11-inning, 5-4 walk off win over Toronto.
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Season finale post-game notes and quotes

Season finale post-game notes and quotes
It's over now - The O's ended the season with a three-game sweep and four-game win streak. They finished 64 and 98. They went 39-42 at home and 25-56 on the road. They ended up 24-48 vs. the AL East. They went 6-20 in September and 4-0 in October. The three-game sweep was the O's first since taking three at Philly June 19-21. It was their second three-game sweep vs. Toronto after taking three from the Jays May 25-27. The O's and Toronto each won nine games in the season series,...
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MacPhail speak

MacPhail speak
An added bonus in having Andy MacPhail running the Orioles baseball operations is that we are all getting to learn a new baseball vocabulary. On Andy's watch, the O's don't call up players from the minors, they "introduce" them to the bigs. Major Leagues meet Matt Wieters, Matt meet the Majors. Brian Matusz meet the show, show here's Brian, good luck trying to hit his changeup. The 2009 Orioles made plenty of introductions that all should lead to some improvement in 2010.
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A matter of leadership

A matter of leadership
Dave Trembley was asked about leadership. What makes a leader? Do the Orioles have one? "Leadership is not what you say it's what you do. The way you go about it, the ability to offer suggestions or make corrections with younger players. Leadership is a presence. It's reliability, it's etched in stone like concrete. It's day in and day out, what you stand for." He provided an example from this year where he felt Brian Roberts showed leadership.
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O's get little recognition on Baseball America's top 20 lists

O's get little recognition on Baseball America's top 20 lists
Should O's fans be concerned that Baseball America has released its top 20 prospects for five leagues where O's have affiliates and just three O's players have been mentioned? RHP Matt Hobgood was named the 4th best prospect in the Appalachian League while LHP Brian Matusz was rated number two and LHP Zach Britton as the 15th best prospect in the Carolina League. The O's had none of the top 20 prospects in the Gulf Coast League, the South Atlantic League or the New York-Penn League.
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O's sign player from Guatemala

O's sign player from Guatemala
His name is Manuel Hernandez and the 17-year-old is the first player the Orioles have ever signed from the country of Guatemala. He has played outfield and infield for his national team and was signed last Friday by the O's during a ceremony that made big news in his homeland. No player from Guatemala has ever made the Major Leauges and Hernandez is just the seventh to ever sign with a big league club. He is a 6'1", 170-pound right handed hitter and thrower.
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What's next for Billy Rowell?

What's next for Billy Rowell?
Billy Rowell, the 9th pick in the first-round of the 2006 draft, is becoming a bit of a problem for the O's organization. His stats are declining each season. Worse yet, some Keys' observers this year questioned his effort and work ethic. Others said he was far from the most popular player in the clubhouse. Somewhere amidst all of this there is massive power potential that remains untapped. He has hit just 16 homers in two full seasons in the Carolina League.
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Tillman talk (plus Eastern League rankings)

Tillman talk (plus Eastern League rankings)
Chris Tillman said the 2009 season was quite a special one for him. It began with him as a Triple-A rookie at the age of 20 and ended with the 21-year-old Tillman picking up Major League wins vs. the Angels and Yankees. "I've grown a lot," Tillman said. "Coming into this season, I didn't have much of a changeup, didn't have much of a clue about how to hold runners on. I had only Double-A time. I've come far with my changeup. I've come farther than I expected to this year." After...
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David Stockstill comments on his new role

David Stockstill comments on his new role
The Orioles announced today that David Stockstill will officially begin in his new position as the club's director of international scouting on April 5th. Stockstill, who has headed up the O's minor league operations since November of 2004, is in Florida now and will remain there through early April to help setup the club's minor league rosters. In his new role, David will oversee all the club's international operations, including scouting in the Far East, Latin America and beyond. He...
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O's minor league notebook

O's minor league notebook
While the Orioles Major League season is over, about 60 O's minor leaguers continue to take part in instructional league workouts in Sarasota, Florida. The group is made up of mostly players from the O's lower minors and, as the title says, players get instruction on aspects of their game that needs improving. They also play about 15 games vs. players from other organizations. O's director of player development, David Stockstill, said the workouts, that come to an end next Friday, have...
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Wondering about the corners

Wondering about the corners
It is a big question for the O's front office to answer at some point. Do they already have their future players at first and third base in house, or do they need to go bat shopping at one or both of those positions? And, what if Josh Bell is the future at third and Brandon Snyder the future at first, but neither is ready on opening day, 2010. Then what? The O's seem pretty sold that Bell could be the heir apparent at third. But he has not yet played at Triple-A ball.
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Rising star in the O's Minors

Rising star in the O's Minors
We're talking about a coach, not a player. But a coach that has had a major impact on some key O's minor league pitchers for two years now. Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin was the winner of the 2009 Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award. It goes to the person who best exemplifies the qualities of the late O's coach and manager. Griffin joined the O's organization for the 2008 season and was immediately matched with some of the club's top young arms at Bowie. The Baysox were...
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How do O's young pitchers stack up?

How do O's young pitchers stack up?
In this space yesterday, I featured Mike Griffin, the O's minor league pitching coach who spent most of the last two years tutoring pitchers like Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez and Jason Berken. They made up the bulk of his pitching rotations at Bowie in 2008 and Norfolk this past season. All four pitchers made the Majors this year and were happy to give Griffin a lot of credit for his help. Griffin has a track record of developing Major League pitchers. While in the Boston...
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O's rally late on Baseball America lists

O's rally late on Baseball America lists
It may not be quite as exciting as a bottom of the ninth come-from-behind win, but the Orioles made a late rally on Baseball America's top 20 minor league prospects lists. When I wrote about this last Wednesday, the Orioles had just three players named among the top 20 of five different leagues. But, with a late rally, the O's had three players named on Double-A lists and three named in the International League.
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A temporary Angels fan

A temporary Angels fan
One way to tell you are somewhat of a die-hard O's fan. When Boston was eliminated in the post-season, you either shouted out loud or muttered under your breath "take that Red Sox nation!" Next year when they parade into the Yard acting like winning is their birth right, remind them they won as many playoff games this year as the Orioles did. There was a time when a small part of me wanted to see the AL East teams win in October. But no more. If you are like me, after years of watching...
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Griffin on Arrieta, Patton and more

Griffin on Arrieta, Patton and more
Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin has been featured in two of my blogs this week. In his two years in the O's organization, he has made quite an impact on some of the O's top, young pitchers. In this entry today, he talks about some hurlers not addressed in those earlier stories. How did Jake Arrieta do for you this year and what is his outlook for the future? "Jake came to us at the half-way point and really learned a lot of things he needed to get done at Triple-A. He put some...
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Goodfellas (minor league version)

Goodfellas (minor league version)
I'm borrowing a blog idea from Roch today. He recently wrote about some of the all-time good guys he has covered working the O's beat. From 2004-2006 after I left WBAL Radio, I had the pleasure to be the play-by-play guy on the radio for the Aberdeen IronBirds. I count it as one of the special experiences of my life. I met some great people, worked for great people, and saw some neat places and towns along the way. I enjoyed just about every minute of it.
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