Bourn’s steals a welcome gift for the O’s
OF’s speed brings new dynamic; Showalter might pull starters earlier
NEWYORK— Stealing bases isn’t the Orioles’ forte — they have just 17 this season, last in the major leagues and 30 fewer than the second-worst American League club. But the August addition of speedy veteran outfielder Michael Bourn has given the Orioles a dynamic they’ve lacked on the base path.
“If it was our skill set, it would” be something we do, manager Buck Showalter said. “You know, it’s funny. Everybody’s on their own here. Very few times do we shut people down.”
Bourn gave the Orioles late-inning steals in both of the team’s wins in Toronto this week, and while the Orioles still rely more on power than speed, their ability to move runners along the bases takes on more importance down the stretch.
Before the Orioles opened their final regular-season series Friday in New York, Showalter said he would be interested in having Bourn past this season, when he becomes a free agent.
“He’s the type of guy you’d like to keep around,” he said.
In the Orioles’ series-clinching 4-0winThursday in Toronto, Bourn drew a leadoff walk from Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman. On the next pitch, he stole second base, and later scored on Hyun Soo Kim’s two-out RBI single to give the Orioles a three-run lead. He also stole a base in the ninth.
“The thing I like is that he’s not afraid. I applaud him whether he’s out or safe,” Showalter said. “That’s why he’s played so long and why we tried to acquire him, because he ain’t scared. He knows what he’s supposed to bring, and he’s going to try to bring it.”
Bourn, 33, who has 341 career stolen bases and led the National League in steals from 2009 to 2011, said after Thursday’s game that being thrust into a playoff race after playing for last-place Arizona has rejuvenated him. He was acquired by the Orioles on Aug. 31 from the Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league outfielder Jason Heinrich. Bourn A quicker hook: Because of the magnitude of each late-season game and the luxury of baseball’s expanded rosters, Showalter acknowledged that he might have a tighter leash on his starting pitchers if they struggle early this weekend.
“Nothing’s business as usual,” Showalter said. “It also depends on who it is and how they’ve been pitching. Every situation is different. You don’t just paint with a broad brush. The other team usually gives you a good idea of how your guy’s doing and if you think they’re going to get back on task. But I don’t think there’s a blueprint, that if this guy gets two on in the first inning, he’s out of the game.
“You never know when there’s a hitter or two from him getting on step and throwing seven shutout innings. You’ve got to be careful with that. We’re fortunate to have guys with good track records pitching in games like this.”
Showalter added that he could use right-hander Dylan Bundy as a power arm out of the bullpen today or Sunday against the Yankees, if needed, and even into the postseason. “We could do that,” Showalter said. “If we get to Sunday, we’re going to put our best foot forward. And then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, if we get there.” Around the horn: Orioles closer Zach Britton and outfielderdesignated hitter Mark Trumbo are finalists for this year’s Players Choice Awards, which are chosen by a vote of major league players. Britton is one of three finalists for the American League Outstanding Pitcher award, along with fellow AL Cy Young Award candidates Rick Porcello of the Boston Red Sox and Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians. Trumbo, whose 47 homers lead the majors, is an AL Comeback Player of the Year finalist. … Left-hander Wade Miley, today’s scheduled starter, was slated to rejoin the team before Friday’s game, flying into NewYork from his home in Louisiana. He left the club to be with his wife after the birth of the couple’s first child, a baby boy. … Yankees first baseman MarkTeixeira ( Mount Saint Joseph), a Severna Park native who is retiring after the season, was honored during a pregame ceremony Friday at Yankee Stadium.