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Twilight time in Bronx, no Cards speech in DC

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Oct. 12 2012 7:00 p.m. MDT

Baltimore Orioles' Jim Thome reacts in the dugout after losing 3-1 to the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the American League division baseball series, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, in New York.

Bill Kostroun, Associated Press

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter was a bit confused by the unusual starting time for Game 5 of the AL division series.

Finishing off a pregame answer about leaving slugger Jim Thome out of his starting lineup for the all-or-nothing matchup against the New York Yankees, Showalter veered off topic.

"Is this a day or night game? What are we calling it? Twilight?" Showalter asked.

Showalter said he asked the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Thome whether he ate breakfast or lunch before the 5:07 p.m. EDT start.

"He goes 'both.' A dumb question."

The Orioles also tried to alter batting practice to tailor it a little more to their liking. Perhaps tired of the constant stream of advertising and Yankees highlights that blare on the main video board when the visitors hit, they placed their own stereo system next to the batting cage.

HOMERS ON HOLD: Alex Rodriguez wasn't the only slugger with over 600 homers to be kept out of the starting lineup for Game 5 between the Yankees and Orioles.

Jim Thome took a seat, too.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter chose to start light-hitting Lew Ford over the 612-homer man.

"It gives us some good options on the bench," Showalter said. "Lew has done some good things for us.

Ford was hitting .256 and has two homers in 43 at-bats against Yankees starter CC Sabathia. He's also 2 for 5 with a double in the series while Thome is 1 for 12 with four strikeouts.

Thome missed almost seven weeks with a neck injury, returning Sept.. 21, and Showalter wants to protect the 42-year-old designated hitter.

"I have a little concern with Jimmy, try not to throw what he's gone through physically with his neck and back out the window," Showalter said. "Trying not to overextend him some. But he's got a good at bat in him today at some point if we need it.

When asked what he thought about Rodriguez and his 647 career homers not starting, Thome said, "I prefer not to talk about that situation."

THINKING AHEAD: Davey Johnson won the World Series as a player and a manager, but he went 15 years without a trip to the postseason until returning this October with the Washington Nationals.

So during all that time away, did he wonder about getting another chance to be a skipper in a win-or-go-home game?

"I never really thought about it," the Nationals' manager said before Game 5 of their NL division series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.

He did, however, have something running through his mind while watching baseball playoff games on TV in the decade and a half since he took the Baltimore Orioles to the 1997 postseason.

"I'd think, 'Oh, I can imagine the question he's going to get from the writers after that game. I'm glad it's him and not me,'" Johnson said with a smile.

NO SPEECH HERE: After a dramatic victory in Game 4 of their NL division series to extend their season, some Washington Nationals pointed to a rousing pregame speech quoting President Teddy Roosevelt delivered by veteran Mark DeRosa, who isn't even on the playoff roster.

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said before Game 5 on Friday night that he didn't feel the need to come up with any special sort of motivational words to help his players rebound from losing 2-1 on Jayson Werth's game-ending homer in the bottom of the ninth inning a day earlier.

"As far as a Knute Rockne deal, that's not what this club does," Matheny said. "This club shows up to play baseball every day. Now there have been times through the season where it's been needed, but today is not one of those times."

The first-year manager, who replaced the retired Tony La Russa after St. Louis won the 2011 World Series, continued: "These guys played a good, hard baseball game yesterday. We ended up on the short end of it, and it's not the first time it's happened to them, and they have responded well by just coming back and playing the game."

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