Changing places in Baltimore

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Changing places in Baltimore

There was a time when Baltimore was just about the happiest place on Earth for the Red Sox.

Aside from Fenway, there wasnt a stadium in the American League more inviting than Camden Yards. There wasnt a team in baseball whether they were managed by Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove, Lee Mazzilli or Dave Trembley; led by Jeff Conine, Melvin Mora, Miguel Tejada or the great Rodrigo Lopez more ready and willing to roll over for the Sox.

For more than a decade, the Orioles were a joke and Boston always had the last laugh.

But now, for the second straight season, the Sox are living their worst nightmare at Fenway South. They're grasping at straws as the walls around their season crumble; meanwhile, you know their former punching bag cant get enough. Theyll never say it publicly (actually, they might), but the Orioles love every second of this Red Sox disaster.

A big reason is Buck Showalter.

From the moment he took the job in the summer of 2010, Showalter set out to instill a culture of Red Sox hatred in that Orioles clubhouse. He took a group of young, impressionable minds (which also happened to possess a ridiculous level of talent) and began molding them into an army of big market assassins.

"Id like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll, Showalter said last spring. You got Carl Crawford cause you paid more than anyone else, and thats what makes you smarter? Thats why I like whipping their butt. Its great, knowing those guys with the 205 million payroll are saying, How the hell are they beating us? "

If thats what he was saying in public, you can only imagine what was flying around behind the scenes. And regardless of what it was, its worked. The Orioles are currently on pace for their first winning season since 1998. Meanwhile, Showalter's in a two-man race with Robin Ventura for A.L. Manager of the Year.

On the other side, the Sox can't keep from repeatedly slipping in the same pile of their own expletive deleted.

Of course, there are more factors in play within both these franchises than merely a focused and inspiring manager. In Baltimore, you have a ton of young, finally-developed talent, but also guys who know their place and are willing to learn, even though there's no question Showalter must rub them the wrong way from time to time. You have a front office willing to let Showalter to do his work; who haven't forgotten why they hired him in the first place and are smart enough to stay out of the way. You have timid expectations; resigned patience within the organization, the media and what's left of their fanbase.

In other words, you have the polar opposite of the Red Sox.

And with all we're going through here, it's no surprise that Baltimore's finding success on the other side of the coin.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

NEW YORK -- The division title was there for the taking Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. When you've won 11 straight and steamrolled every other team in the division, what's one more?

One too many, apparently.

The Red Sox' 6-4 defeat to the New York Yankees postponed the Champagne party for at least one night. In and of itself, that's not a huge concern. The Sox' magic number remains one with five games to play and the club's epic hot streak had to come to an end eventually.

A better night by either David -- Ortiz or Price -- might have resulted in corks popping and on-field celebrations.

Ortiz was 0-for-5 and stranded a total of seven baserunners. When he came to the plate in the top of the ninth against Tyler Clippard with two outs and two on, it almost seemed scripted.

Here was Ortiz in his final Yankee Stadium series, about to inflict one final bit of misery on the rival Yankees with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth.

Talk about drama. Talk about one more famous, final scene.

Alas, Ortiz took some feeble swings and swung through strike three for the final out. Not even Ortiz, for all his clutch performances, can conjure a game-winner on-demand every time.

A far bigger concern was the work of Price. Perhaps the best thing than can be said of him for now is that he almost certainly will not have to face the Yankees again this season, against whom he's compiled a gaudy 7.89 ERA this season.

More troubling, though, is that Price is not exactly hitting his stride as the postseason appears on the near horizon. In his last three starts combined, Price has pitched 19 1/3 innings and allowed 27 hits and 14 runs.

That isn't the line of someone at peak form at the right time. To the contrary, after a run of outings in which it again appeared Price had figured everything out, he's regressed in his last three.

Most troubling Tuesday was a repeated inability to turn back the Yankees after his team had pulled close on the scoreboard.

Price spotted the Yankees a 3-0 lead, and the Sox finally scored twice in the top of the 6th to close within one at 3-2. But Price quickly gave anther run back in the bottom of the inning.

Then the Sox scored two more times in the seventh to tie things at 4-4. . . but Price gave the two runs right back in the bottom of the inning.

"Very frustrating,'' sighed Price. "It's something I talk about all the time. It's a very big deal. And it's something I feel like I've struggled with this entire year. Whenever you're going good, it's something you're doing very well. And whenever you're going bad...you get a lead, give it right back. . . that's tough.''

It also doesn't portend well for the postseason, where Price, as you may have heard, has a spotty track record.

With some strong starts in the final few weeks, he could have reached the playoffs with both momentum and confidence.

Instead, he's got one more start -- Sunday -- to straighten things out.

Ortiz? His postseason bona fides are set.

Price, meanwhile, has no such reservoir of success upon which to draw. And starts like Tuesday's only reinforce the doubts.

 

Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

NEW YORK -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees:

 

QUOTES:

"I went 0-for-5 today, so I ain't got (anything) to talk about.'' - David Ortiz after turning around and seeing a small army of reporters waiting for him in front of his locker.

"To have a chance to clinch the division for us here (and come up sort), it's not acceptable. If my offense scores me four runs, I feel like I should be able to go out there and win.'' - David Price.

"The bottom line story to this one was (Price) mislocating within the strike zone.'' - John Farrell.

 

NOTES:

* Boston's season-best 11-game win streak was snapped with the loss.

* David Price took his first loss since Aug. 7.

* Price is 1-3 with a 7.89 ERA against the Yankees this season.

* Aaron Hill contributed his first pinch-hit homer in his career.

* Mookie Betts saw his streak of reaching base in 38 straight road games stopped.

* Dustin Pedroia posted his third straight multi-hit game.

* For the 20th time this season, Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a three-hit game.

* In his last 12 games, Andrew Benintendi has eight extra-base hits.

* Hill's pinch-hit homer was the third by the Red Sox this month.

 

STARS:

1) Tyler Austin

The rookie first baseman snapped a 4-4 tie in the seventh with a two-run homer and also added two more hits in three at-bats.

2) Gary Sanchez

The first-year catcher continues to amaze, hitting his 20th homer in only his 51st game, sending the Yanks out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning.

3) Luis Cessa

Cessa took a big step forward from his last start against the Red Sox by keeping them scoreless through the first five innings before allowing two runs in the sixth.