BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles ended a trying season Sunday with a salute to outfielder Adam Jones and a 4-0 victory over the Houston Astros that could end up serving as a parting gift to manager Buck Showalter.
Jimmy Yacabonis, Paul Fry (1-2) and Mychal Givens combined on a one-hitter against the AL West champions, who open the playoffs at home Friday against Cleveland.
Baltimore finished at 47-115, the most losses in franchise history and the most for a big league team since Detroit’s 118 in 2003. The Orioles were only the fifth team since 1900 to lose 115 or more.
Baltimore is already in full rebuilding mode, which means the 33-year-old Jones and Showalter may not be back.
When it came time for the Orioles to take the field before the game, Jones went out alone while players from both sides applauded and the fans stood and cheered. Jones started in center field, the position he held from 2008 until he was bumped to right field in August by 23-year-old rookie Cedric Mullins.
Many in the crowd of 24,916 stood before each at-bat by Jones, who went 0 for 4.
In the top of the ninth, Showalter sent Joey Rickard in to replace Jones, who received yet another standing ovation as he jogged off the field. Upon his arrival in the dugout, the chain of hugs and high-fives ended with his arms wrapped around Showalter.
Hired by Orioles owner Peter Angelos in 2010, Showalter — like Jones — has a contract that expires this year and may not be renewed.
“Mr. Angelos’ family has been great to me and mine,” Showalter said before the game. “So whatever direction they decide to go, I’m at peace with it.”
Houston manager A.J. Hinch rested most of his regulars, making sure they’re fresh for the postseason. Charlie Morton started and worked three innings, allowing just one hit in a performance that showed he’s ready to be a factor in the playoffs.
Brad Peacock (3-5) gave up four runs in the fourth inning, getting only one out.
Houston’s only hit came in the fourth, when Jose Altuve hit a sharp single to right before leaving for a pinch runner.
WHITTLING THE ROSTER
Hinch shaved five players off his projected playoff roster, with more cuts to come.
Right-hander Dean Deetz, OF Kyle Tucker and LHP Reymin Guduan had their seasons end Sunday. Pitchers Framber Valdez and Cionel Perez will work at the team’s spring training facility to “stay as active as they can in case of an injury or in case of a call from us,” said Hinch, adding that in the next few days he will decide whether to carry three catchers.
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa was rested Sunday after an abbreviated appearance Saturday that indicated he was no longer bothered by back soreness.
“I think (Saturday) was a really good sign, with two good swings and a couple of difficult plays on defense,” Hinch said. “I don’t think we can forget he’s a really good player, and really good players step up when you need them the most. We’re going to need that starting Friday.”
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis sat out the entire series and finished with a .168 batting average, lowest in major league history by a qualifier.
The previous record was .177, by Rob Deer in 1991 and Dan Uggla in 2013.
It’s been a harsh decline for Davis, who signed a $161 million, seven-year contract after the 2015 season.
The Orioles probably can’t find a taker in a trade, and it would be extremely costly to cut him.
The Orioles drew 1,564,192 for 78 home dates, their lowest figure in a non-strike season since 1978.
“It’s up to us to give them something they want to embrace,” Showalter said. “Attendance is down. It’s our fault, not theirs.”
Astros: Hinch hasn’t announced his rotation for the playoffs, but Justin Verlander is the likely starter in Game 1. “I don’t think it’s too much of a secret,” the manager said.
Orioles: The 2019 season opener will be at Yankee Stadium on March 28.
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