Adam Jones and the 2010s Orioles

By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun The Orioles started the 2010s the way they had played most of the previous decade: terribly. "We were true cellar dwellers in the [American League] East, no matter how you want to put it," said center fielder Adam Jones, who has been with the Orioles since 2008. "That's how it was. And then we had a culture shift." In August 2010, the Orioles announced that they had hired Buck Showalter, their third manager that season, after going through Dave Trembley and interim Juan Samuel. Showalter brought with him instant credibility, having built winners with the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers. "We got someone in that's not afraid to hold his players accountable and, at the same time, command it, demand it and earn the respect," Jones said. "You put someone in charge that commands and earns respect, you can do something with that." The Orioles finished the 2010 season going 34-23 under Showalter, but they finished last in the division with 96 losses. With Showalter, there was some guarded optimism heading into 2011. The results weren't much better. The Orioles lost 93 games, their 14th consecutive losing season. At the end of the year, team president Andy MacPhail stepped down after his contract expired. Yet there was a sense that the franchise was on the upswing. And it all came together in the final series of the year, at Camden Yards against the seemingly playoff-bound Boston Red Sox. The Orioles were playing out the string. The Red Sox were hoping to win at least two of three to get into the postseason. The teams split the first two games, and Boston took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth in the season finale. With two outs, Chris Davis and Nolan Reimold hit consecutive doubles to tie the score. Infielder Robert Andino followed with a sinking liner for a single that scored Reimold and gave the Orioles a walk-off end to their season. Moments later, the Tampa Bay Rays completed their own comeback against the New York Yankees to clinch a playoff spot and knock the Red Sox out of the playoffs. "The Red Sox were supposed to come in and sweep us, and we took two out of three," Jones said. "That shows we don't quit, especially our manager." That offseason, the Orioles hired Dan Duquette, who had been out of the big leagues for roughly a decade, as their executive vice president. Scouring everywhere for undervalued assets, Duquette's front office added contributors Miguel Gonzalez, Nate McLouth and Joe Saunders to a club building on the previous September's momentum. Suddenly, in 2012, baseball in Baltimore became relevant again. The Orioles won 93 games, made the playoffs for the first time since 1997 and won a one-game wild-card showdown against the Texas Rangers in Arlington. Camden Yards again hosted playoff games against the rival Yankees, who beat them in five games in the AL Division Series. That year was a rebirth of sorts, coupled with the franchise's decision to erect statues of its modern-day Hall of Famers: Earl Weaver, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer and Cal Ripken Jr. "I think it brought the city alive; that's what I got out of 2012," Jones said. "The city of Baltimore, the metropolitan area, awoke -- the baseball mind of it, anyway. The football mind had been [awakened]. But the baseball part had been dormant." When 2013 began, it carried with it something that hadn't followed the Orioles in more than a decade: expectations of success. The 2013 Orioles didn't return to the playoffs, winning 85 games and tying for third with the Yankees. But they sent five players to the All-Star Game, won three Gold Gloves and watched first baseman Chris Davis break the franchise record with 53 homers. They were in the playoff race until the final week of the season. Heading into the 2014 season, the Orioles again are expected to be contenders, especially with the additions of starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and slugger Nelson Cruz to a roster jammed with players in their prime. "The 2000s were dormant," Jones said. "From 2010 to 2019, we got one playoff series [already]. And now we are working on a second." For year-by-year capsules from the 2010s, click here.
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