Bourn’s steals a wel­come gift for the O’s

OF’s speed brings new dy­namic; Showal­ter might pull starters ear­lier

Baltimore Sun - - ORIOLES - By Ed­uardo A. Encina eencina@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Ed­dieInTheYard

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.

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