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Guthrie delivers as O’s win with heavy hearts

August 24, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — If it were not for Mike Flanagan, right-hander Jeremy Guthrie may never have joined the Orioles in 2007.

So, it was only fitting that Guthrie — who wears the same No. 46 that Flanagan donned for 15 years with Baltimore — would pitch a gem in a 6-1 victory over the Twins on Wednesday, the night of Flanagan’s death.

Flanagan was the executive vice president of baseball operations at the time, and he made the waiver claim to acquire Guthrie from the Indians. When he joined the club, Guthrie asked for and received permission from Flanagan to wear No. 46.

“Since the day I was given No. 46, I’ve had thousands of people tell me that was the number of their favorite pitcher for the Orioles when they were growing up,” Guthrie said. “So from Day 1, I think I’ve been reminded of the legacy and of the work that Mike did not only as a player, but also as a member of the community in Baltimore.

“It’s always been special, and now I think it takes on even a new level. He’s not going to be forgotten soon, that’s for sure.”

Flanagan’s death overshadowed a brilliant outing by Guthrie and the Orioles’ third straight win, the first time the O’s won three straight on the road since April 29-May 1 against the White Sox. Baltimore also picked up its first series win since June 24-26 versus Cincinnati, snapping a streak of 15 winless series.

And the Orioles won a road series for the first time since taking two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays May 13-15.

But all of that mattered less to the O’s once they heard of Flanagan’s death. Hall of Fame right-hander Jim Palmer, a former teammate of Flanagan’s and current O’s broadcaster, said he heard the news about the third or fourth inning.

“Well, it kind of makes the game insignificant,” Palmer said. “It just makes you kind of re-evaluate how lucky we were and it makes you take a look at what’s going on, what’s important and what’s not.”

Guthrie allowed a first-inning triple and a run on back-to-back doubles in the third, but was otherwise stalwart on the night. After those doubles, Guthrie retired 12 straight batters until issuing a two-out walk to Luke Hughes in the seventh.

Guthrie allowed one run on five hits in seven innings with five strikeouts. He snapped a three-start winless streak, picking up his first win since July 29 at New York.

Still, his postgame focus was more on Flanagan than on his own success.

“It’s a really sad day,” Guthrie said. “He’s so close to so many people in this organization and he’s touched the lives of thousands in the Baltimore community, and the baseball world. So, the news of him passing is a big blow to this team, to this family, to this organization, to the city and to Major League Baseball.”

Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey shut down the Orioles’ offense for four innings, but the O’s jumped all over him in the fifth, collectively hitting for the cycle in the inning. Mark Reynolds kicked things off with a homer, though he thought he had popped it up off the bat.

Though he never got to know Flanagan as well as some others with the Orioles, Reynolds shared his thoughts on the situation.

“It’s sad,” Reynolds said. “I didn’t really get a chance to know him on a personal level, it’s my first year here. But I’ve seen him around, and from what I hear from everyone, he’s a great guy. … He was a big part of the club.”

Two batters after Reynolds’ homer, with Jake Fox on first and one out, Nolan Reimold tripled, followed by a Ryan Adams double, J.J. Hardy single and a Nick Markakis walk.

Slowey then got Adam Jones to flyout to left, but a Matt Wieters double knocked him out of the game. Slowey only allowed one hit and a hit batter through the first four frames, but finished with five runs allowed on seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings.

Even with the success the Orioles have enjoyed this week at Target Field, manager Buck Showalter did not talk about the win in his postgame meeting with reporters.

“Mike made a point of making me feel welcome from Day 1,” Showalter said. “The first time I spent time with him, he was in the line at a ‘Welcome Home’ banquet. I remember it like it was yesterday. He was trying to help me help our left-handers with their moves.

“I always looked forward to him coming in, sitting down and drinking coffee with me. Not only talking about baseball, but talking about life. He was a passionate man about the Orioles and his family and he impacted a lot of people’s lives.

“He’s someone that our organization has always been proud, not only for the way he pitched but the way he treated people.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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