So the Orioles won again tonight, but I find myself unable to concentrate on writing anything about it because of the very sad news regarding the death of Mike Flanagan. I just finished watching Jim Hunter, Jim Palmer, Amber Theoharis, Rick Dempsey, and Tom Davis on the Orioles post game show, and it was heart wrenching watching them speak of their friend and colleague. There were a few tears and cracking voices, but they did all they could to remain as professional as possible.
I didn't know Mike Flanagan, although I did have the pleasure of meeting him a few times. He was always as kind as could be, and like the rest of you, I felt a connection to him not only because of his status as a former Oriole but because we spent time with him in some way or another for years and years. Either he was in the broadcast booth or the front office or down on the field as the pitching coach for as long as I could remember. Mike Flanagan was Birdland as Birdland gets, a true lifelong Oriole.
If it's not sad enough that Flanny passed away at such a young age, reports that he took his own life are devastating. Gerry Sandusky reported on WBAL that Flanagan took his own life "despondent over what he considered a false perception from a community he loved of his role in the team's prolonged failure." Now, I happen to agree with Kevin Van Valkenburg when he said on Twitter that it's uncomfortable to see WBAL reporting on Flanagan's apparent state of mind and reason for suicide. None of us have any idea of that is true, but the very thought of it makes my stomach hurt. I know whatever happened it was more layered than that, but for now it doesn't seem important as his family and community mourns this loss.
Click through the jump if you'd like to read my recap of the O's 6-1 win against the Minnesota Twins. I hope the above wasn't too self indulgent, but I couldn't jump into the postgame without saying something.
Jeremy Guthrie started tonight's game, his first start since August 13th. He'd been pushed back a few days to rest his sore shoulder, and if it was hurting him tonight, he didn't show it. He had a tough first inning, facing six batters and giving up a hit and a walk while also hitting a batter. Luckily no runs scored, and Guthrie settled down. The only run he surrendered came in the third inning on back-to-back doubles from Jason Kubel and Justin Morneau.
When Guthrie got Rene Tosoni to fly out to left field to end the third inning, it was the start of twelve straight batters being retired, broken up with two outs in the seventh inning with a walk to Luke Hughes. Drew Butera followed the walk with a single, but Guthrie got Ben Revere to ground out to end the inning. That was the final inning Guthrie pitched, and he finished the game with a line of 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K. He threw 107 pitches, 67 for strikes.
Many of you know that Jeremy Guthrie wears the uniform number 46, which was also the number worn by Mike Flanagan. After the game, Jeremy relayed the following via Twitter:
From day I was given #46 as Oriole, the fans always reminded me of the legacy Mike Flanagan left behind. This is a sad day for Orioles family
Mike Flanagan was an important person to me & touched the lives of countless people in the baseball family & especially in Baltimore.
Kind words from a classy player.
The Orioles gave Guthrie something tonight that he rarely sees: run support. After looking tired for the first four innings, the offense exploded for five runs in the fifth inning. Mark Reynolds got the party started with a leadoff home run to tie the game at one, then the bottom of the order again got the job done. Consecutive hits by Jake Fox, Nolan Reimold, and Ryan Adams made the score 3-1, then J.J. Hardy singled and Nick Markakis walked to load the bases. Matt Wieters stepped to the plate with two outs and drove a double to left to score both Adams and Hardy.
The Orioles tacked another run on in the top of the ninth inning when Hardy singled, moved to second on a ground out, third on a fly ball, and scored on a wild pitch.
Mike Gonzalez continued to look great as he pitched one inning in relief and struck out the side. For those counting, Gonzo has struck out the last seven batters that he's faced, and in the month of August has allowed no runs on two hits over eight appearances.
Jim Johnson closed out the victory for the O's with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, and just like that the Orioles have won three in a row. They go for the sweep tomorrow in a day game with Jo-Jo Reyes on the mound.