Leyland's pick for top manager? Showalter & Melvin

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9 2012 7:25 p.m. MDT

Buck Showalter did an excellent job of guiding the Baltimore Orioles back into the playoffs. Bob Melvin had an equally fine effort with the Oakland Athletics.

So who should be the AL Manager of the Year? Both of them, Detroit skipper Jim Leyland said.

"Not to put the cart before the horse, but I hope that Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin are co-Managers of the Year this year," Leyland said before Detroit tried for a three-game sweep at Oakland in the ALDS on Tuesday night. "I think if there's a year there should be two guys getting the award, this is the year."

The award, chosen by voters from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, will be announced next month.

Melvin, in his first full season with Oakland, managed the A's to a 94-68 record. The surprising Athletics returned to the playoffs for the first time in six years. His erased a 13-game AL West deficit — including five games over the final nine — and overtook two-time reigning AL champion Texas on the season's final day.

The A's became the first team in major league history to win the division or pennant after trailing by five or more games with fewer than 10 to go.

Showalter, meanwhile, helped the Orioles end 14 straight losing seasons and four consecutive last-place finishes. They won 93 games to earn a wild-card berth and beat the two-time defending AL champion Rangers in a one-game playoff to advance to the division series against New York.

The Yankees and Orioles are tied one game apiece. Game 3 is Wednesday in New York.

BIRDS ON A BUS: Baltimore manager Buck Showalter was given an unexpected reminder of what it was like to travel in his minor league days.

The Orioles rode the bus to New York.

The alternate plans were needed when Baltimore's train stalled because of electrical problems along the line early Tuesday morning after beating the Yankee 3-2, tying their AL division series at one game each.

"The way I understand it, I think the train ahead of us, I think it was the Yankees, clipped something," Showalter said. "Finally we just got on a bus, and it was about a 2½-hour bus ride from there to the hotel here in New York."

The Orioles arrived at 9 a.m. about three hours after the Yankees returned — also by bus. Both teams began their journeys shortly after 1 a.m.

This wasn't Baltimore's first brush with transportation problems. Less than two weeks ago, the Orioles team plane had smoke in the forward galley and had to be diverted.

FIRST PITCHES, FRANK-LY SPEAKING: Frank Robinson and Frank Howard — a pair of men with strong connections to Washington baseball — will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitches for Games 3 and 4 of the Nationals' NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Robinson was the first manager of the Nationals, guiding them through their initial two seasons in the nation's capital, 2005 and 2006, after having spent four seasons with them when the club was the Montreal Expos. The Hall of Famer get the honor before Wednesday's game, the first baseball postseason contest in Washington since 1933.

"It's cool. It'll be fun to get to talk to him and kind of poke at each other a little bit," said Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who was drafted by the Expos in 2004 and switched his uniform from No. 6 to Robinson's old No. 20 before this season as a tribute.

"When he signed up here, he had this in mind. He wanted to start something, and he did," Desmond added. "He's got a stamp on this organization forever and I'm forever indebted to him, and I think D.C. will be also."

Howard will throw out the first pitch Thursday. He played for the Washington Senators from 1965-71, hitting 44 or more homers in three consecutive seasons during that span.

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