Melvin, Johnson picked as managers of the year

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Melvin, Johnson picked as managers of the year

NEW YORK (AP) Young rosters, small budgets, limited expectations.

No matter.

Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics and Washington's Davey Johnson won big right away and were chosen as managers of the year Tuesday after guiding their teams to huge turnaround seasons.

Melvin beat out Baltimore's Buck Showalter for the AL honor in a close vote by a Baseball Writers' Association of America panel. In his first full season with Oakland, the rookie-laden A's made a 20-game improvement, finished 94-68 and stunned just about everyone by winning the AL West with baseball's lowest payroll.

Still, the unassuming skipper was surprised to win.

``Absolutely shocked. I mean, Buck had such a great year,'' Melvin said on MLB Network.

Johnson was an easy choice for the NL prize after the Nationals - who had never enjoyed a winning season - posted the best record in the majors and made their first playoff appearance.

Johnson, who turns 70 in January, was honored for the second time. He was tabbed as the AL's top manager in 1997, hours after he resigned from the Orioles in a feud with owner Peter Angelos.

This time, Johnson will get a while to enjoy the accolade.

The Nationals announced this month that he will guide them in 2013, when he will be the oldest manager in the majors. He's set to leave the Washington dugout and become a team consultant in 2014.

``World Series or bust,'' Johnson said on MLB Network. ``It's going to be my last year, anyway.''

Melvin also became a two-time winner, having been chosen in 2007 with Arizona. He and Johnson joined Jim Leyland, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Lou Piniella as the only managers to win the award in both leagues.

La Russa was the only other Oakland manager to earn the honor, in 1988 and 1992.

Melvin received 16 first-place votes. Showalter got the other 12 after leading the wild-card Orioles to their first winning season since 1997, and Chicago White Sox first-year manager Robin Ventura finished third.

With five rookies in their starting rotation, the A's were one of baseball's biggest surprises this year - especially after trades, injuries and the suspension of veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon wreaked havoc with the roster. Oakland never panicked under Melvin's cool demeanor, rallying from 13 games back on June 30 and overtaking Texas in the final week to win the division.

The Athletics went 72-38 after June 1, the best record in the majors. They became the first team in big league history to come back from a deficit of at least five games with fewer than 10 remaining to win a division or pennant. The A's then lost in five games in the first round of the playoffs to AL champion Detroit.

``We just tried to keep it day to day,'' Melvin said. ``It's a credit to the guys each and every day going out there and just worrying about that particular day.''

Johnson received 23 of the 32 first-place votes, while Dusty Baker of NL Central winner Cincinnati got five firsts and came in second. Bruce Bochy of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants got four firsts and was third.

Washington won its second major individual award, both in the past two days. Bryce Harper was voted NL Rookie of the Year on Monday.

Before the season, a confident Johnson declared that if the Nationals didn't win the NL East, he'd probably be fired. Washington went 98-64, taking over the division lead in late May and staying in first place the rest of the way. Boosted by Harper, Cy Young Award candidate Gio Gonzalez and their fresh ``Natitude,'' they brought postseason baseball to Washington for the first time since 1933.

``This award's really nice, but I look at the award as an organizational award,'' Johnson said. ``Young players this year really stepped in when key players got hurt. ... We had a lot of young catchers come up and everybody really produced and it was just a remarkable year. Actually, I didn't think they overachieved, they just played up to their ability.''

The playoffs didn't go quite so well. Minus Stephen Strasburg - team execs decided the ace had pitched enough in his first ``full'' season following elbow surgery - Washington blew a 6-0 lead and lost the deciding Game 5 of the division series to St. Louis. Voting for the BBWAA awards was done before the playoffs.

Johnson oversaw a diverse roster, one made up of young and old, Washington veterans and newcomers. A four-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, two-time World Series champion and the last big leaguer to get a hit off Sandy Koufax, Johnson spoke with a soft, raspy tone but always held his team's attention.

He would occasionally raise his voice - he liked to holler ``whack-o!'' when the Nationals homered.

``Davey Johnson's legacy was secure well before he became our manager in 2011, but his performance this season has to rate among his best work,'' Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. ``He showed this club how to win despite being engaged in a pennant race for the first time. And he accomplished this with so many young players.''

Johnson managed the New York Mets to the 1986 championship and later guided Cincinnati and the Orioles. He returned to managing in 1999 with the Los Angeles Dodgers for two years.

In June 2011, Johnson was working as a senior adviser with the Nationals when Jim Riggleman suddenly resigned midway through the season. Johnson took over and agreed to be part of a search committee to select a manager for 2012, allowing that he could be a candidate for the post, too.

The Nationals finished 80-81, barely missing out on their first winning season, and Johnson was brought back for another try.

``What it really comes down to is, you've got to know the makeup of a guy. Know who he handles and when he's going to have some tough times, tough matchups,'' Johnson said. ``So you go with your gut most of the time. You go with your instincts. You don't even want to ask anybody if you're getting ready to make a change or whatever, because you don't want any ties or anything like that.''

Washington was without major league baseball for more than three decades. The Senators moved to Texas after the 1971 season, then the Montreal Expos moved to D.C. to start in 2005.

Under Johnson, the Nationals put aside their losing past and set up a winning future.

The same is true of the A's.

Fired by the Diamondbacks early in 2009, Melvin was hired as Oakland's interim manager on June 9, 2011. Three months later, he signed a three-year contract that runs through the 2014 season.

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AP Sports Writer Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.

Orioles end scoreless streak with 1-0 win in 10 innings

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Orioles end scoreless streak with 1-0 win in 10 innings

BALTIMORE – It’s early May, and the Orioles have already experienced a round of American League East play, and they like what they’ve seen. 

In an extraordinarily tense game, the Orioles broke a 21-inning scoreless streak by pushing a run across in the 10th inning for a 1-0 win over the New York Yankees before 19,598 at Oriole Park on Thursday night.

The Orioles have played each of their four AL East opponents, and are 9-5 against them. They’ll now play out of the division for 27 games. 

With Kevin Gausman and Masahiro Tanaka both pitching magnificently, it took them leaving the game after eight innings for a run to finally come home. 

Gausman finished by throwing eight scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out four. Tanaka gave up five hits in eight shutout innings. 

“I kept telling myself in the dugout, ‘He’s not going to give in, I’m not going to give in,’” Gausman said. 

“That’s just one of those good pitching performances, going back and forth. I felt like I’d sit back in the dugout and then go right back out there.”

Hyun Soo Kim started the 10th with an infield single off Johnny Barbato (1-2). Kim advanced to third on a single to left by Jonathan Schoop. 

Andrew Miller came in to face Pedro Alvarez, who flied to fairly short center. Reimold beat Jacoby Ellsbury’s throw home for the winning run. 

“Just try to get a ball up where I can put a good swing on it and hopefully hit it deep enough or where nobody's [and we] can score. I'm just trying to hit the ball. I'm just trying to square it up. Obviously, if I get a pitch that's up in the zone then there's more probability of the ball being in the air, that's why i was looking for a pitch up and just putting a good swing on it,” Alvarez said. 

Kim, who a month ago had yet to play his first game, is now 10-for-18 in seven games. His .556 batting average is certainly unexpected, but the fun he had in setting up the win, made him ecstatic. 

““It’s just indescribably great for me to win a game like that. I’m really enjoying the moment,” Kim said through his translator. 

Darren O’Day started the ninth with two outs, and after Starlin Castro singled, Zach Britton who hadn’t pitched since spraining his left ankle on Saturday, came in to face Brian McCann. 

On a 3-1 pitch, Britton threw a strike to McCann, and Matt Wieters fired the ball to shortstop where Manny Machado tagged Castro out to end the ninth. 

“That entire at-bat I was kind of feeling like my focus was on whether or not I was going to feel (the ankle discomfort) every pitch, even though I wasn’t. And then, obviously, Matt made a huge play right there to get us back in the dugout. So I felt like that time in the dugout, sitting on the bench, I was able to come down and refocus a little bit,” Britton said. 

After walking Brian McCann to start the 10th and later allowing a stolen base to pinch runner Brett Gardner, Britton (2-1) struck out the side. 

This was Gausman’s third start of the season, and he’s gotten better each time. 

“He was something, wasn’t he? He was solid,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

While Showalter marveled at Gausman’s growth, Yankees manager Joe Girardi seethed. He felt Gausman was balking, and third base umpire Chris Guccione ejected Girardi for arguing after Starlin Castro was left on third to end the top of the fourth. 

Gausman, who can give the Orioles a lift if he can become a topline starter, feels that in his fourth year, he’s finally arriving. 

“I think obviously my confidence is growing. I just feel a lot more confident at this level. Some guys get to the big leagues and already are comfortable. This is the first year I’ve really felt, I know what I’m doing. When I take the mound there’s no question if my stuff is going to play or not. Now, it’s more about making pitches,” Gausman said. 

The Orioles (16-11) took two of three from New York (9-17). 

Showalter used Reimold and Joey Rickard as pinch runners, and continues to use a three-man bench. By the time the Orioles play next, that could change. 

The Orioles have been carrying 13 pitchers, and wanted to keep them all until Britton showed he was physically able to pitch. 

Paul Janish, whose wife is about to deliver their third child, may be joining the team. Showalter also mentioned Jimmy Paredes as a possibility. 

NOTE: The Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series on Friday night. Rich Hill (3-3, 2.53) faces Ubaldo Jimenez (1-3, 5.20).

Why Showalter insists he's not worried about slumping Jones

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Why Showalter insists he's not worried about slumping Jones

BALTIMORE – Adam Jones has had a rocky first month. He entered Thursday night’s game with a .207 average with just one home run and seven runs batted in. 

After grounding out to third in the first inning, Jones is just 1 for his last 12.  

“Adam is, I wouldn’t say frustrated. Adam wants to contribute in every phase of the game,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

“In my list of things that I’m concerned with, I think he’s going to do what Adam’s done for us many years, and I’ve got a long memory.”

Joey Rickard didn’t start the game because Hyun Soo Kim started instead. Showalter likes Rickard’s patience, selectivity and most of all, his attitude. 

“He’s living the American Dream,” Showalter said. 

Gallardo improving, but still not close to returning

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Gallardo improving, but still not close to returning

BALTIMORE – Yovani Gallardo will be eligible to some off the 15-day disabled list this weekend. He’s nowhere ready to be activated, but he remains optimistic.

He was sent to the DL with tendinitis of the right shoulder and biceps. 

Gallardo isn’t ready to begin throwing. 

“Not really, honestly. Obviously, the main thing right now is getting as strong as I can. No point going out there and throwing and going back to square one. I think the main thing is to get the strength to 100 percent and go from there, but hopefully it’s soon,” Gallardo said. 

“I think it’s definitely progressing really well. Really, really well with the exercises that I’ve been doing. It’s right around the corner. I’m anxious. I’m anxious to get back out there and start throwing and work my way back into the rotation.”

Gallardo hasn’t had an arm or shoulder injury before. 

“It’s the first time I’ve been on the DL with an arm issue, period. I’ve been on the DL for other things, but I’ve been able to throw. I think the only one is when I pulled my oblique. That’s the only other one. But the shoulder issue is always tough,” Gallardo said.

“You want to go out there and play catch and do all that sort of thing and you can’t. You can’t and it’s a little bit frustrating, but at the same time I know the guys in the training room are doing what’s best for me and the club. They’re trying to get me right and like I said, I’d rather deal with it only once rather than multiple times.”

Gallardo said that he’s going have to change the way he works out. 
 
“I think it’s something I’m going to incorporate from here on out for the rest of my career. I’ve never had any issues with my shoulder before. I felt like I was doing the stuff I had to do to stay in shape and keep it strong, but obviously the more innings you throw, it’s a little bit different. It’s unfortunate that I had to find out this way, but now I know that I have to incorporate it, whether it be a little bit more weight, a little bit different exercises to maintain that and stay strong,” Gallardo said.