8/29/2013 8:35 P.M. ET
Defense big staple of Orioles' success this year
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
BOSTON -- There are no precedents for what the Orioles have done defensively.
Baltimore has made just 39 errors in its first 131 games this season and is on pace to finish with 48 miscues for the year, which would shatter the existing Major League record.
The Mariners set the all-time mark with 65 errors in 2003, and the Orioles are also on pace to set the single greatest fielding percentage in league history. Baltimore has fielded at a .992 clip this season, narrowly ahead of the all-time mark of .989 set by the Rockies in 2007.
Baltimore has been so good, in fact, that its entire infield may be eclipsed by individual players. The Orioles have seen their infield -- excluding their catchers -- combine for just 28 errors this season, and Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez (25) and Chicago's Alexi Ramirez (21) may be able to catch them.
So what has been the biggest factor in Baltimore's historically clean season? Third-base coach Bobby Dickerson, who doubles as the infield coach, gives a lot of the credit to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who won an American League Gold Glove Award last season.
"We have pretty much the epitome of a fundamental shortstop who plays the game smart and makes good decisions," said Dickerson. "One of the biggest things that has happened has been our first-base play. Chris Davis has probably saved eight or 10 throwing errors, which in turn saves a whole lot more. Once the guys feel comfortable throwing, they don't aim the ball over there. Most defenses, if you don't throw the ball away, you usually play pretty soundly."
Hardy, a two-time All-Star, passed the credit on to the people around him. Hardy said that he's worked with a number of second basemen this season and that all of them have been strong defensively. He also credited third baseman Manny Machado for having a standout season of his own.
"Consistency. Range. Awareness. Arm. All of the above," said Hardy of Machado's strengths. "I think he's doing everything that any third baseman can possibly do to be as good as he's been."
The Orioles aren't resting on their defense, and Hardy said that each of the players have shown a commitment to focus and working on the little things. Nobody in Baltimore is gunning for the record. The O's are just playing solid defense and hoping that it makes a difference in the standings.
"We still have a long way to go," said Dickerson, "and I think that's one thing that sums us up. None of that is even an issue for us. We're trying to make the playoffs. The focus is on playing today. These guys are fundamentally sound and they're focused on every pitch. It's that kind of defense."
Orioles paying close attention to waiver wire
BOSTON -- Making a claim is only part of the process -- and everybody's doing it.
Manager Buck Showalter talked about Baltimore's activity on the waiver front on Thursday, and he made it clear that the Orioles are in the market for another player. However, he also said that virtually every team in the playoff picture is claiming players in the hopes of adding them.
Baltimore has reportedly made a successful claim on two players -- Minnesota's Josh Willingham and Seattle's Mike Morse -- and is in the process of trying to acquire them. But Showalter said that the Red Sox are making the same effort, and that at this point, it's just a matter of due diligence.
"Everybody is. It's that time of the year. That's why the Trade Deadline isn't really a pure deadline," said Showalter of waiver claims. "People that don't see themselves as part of it are trying to make a deal now that really sets them up in the future. ... There's a lot of things going on behind the scenes."
Showalter said that he hasn't spoken to general manager Dan Duquette on Thursday, but he acknowledged that the front office is all over the claim game. In fact, Showalter said that he gets an e-mail every day about who's available on waivers, and that sometimes it's a shocking name.
"If you sit there and look at it every day, you're like, 'Oh my gosh, they put one of the best players in the game on trade waivers today,'" said Showalter of the waiver list. "No, you don't have a chance for him. I'm not real sure why they do that, but there's got to be some good reason."
The bottom line is this: Showalter is going to make out his lineup card every night based on who gives them the best chance to win. If the Orioles are able to add a bat or two before September, he'd be thrilled with that development, but otherwise, Showalter likes his current personnel.
"I think it's right here. It might be Wilson Betemit. It might be Henry Urrutia coming back," said Showalter of reinforcements from within. "There's a lot of things moving. Until somebody tells me there's something else coming, I think it's right here and I think it's the people we have."
Showalter endorses aggressive baserunning
BOSTON -- The Orioles want to see aggression on the basepaths, so manager Buck Showalter isn't going to get upset every time somebody gets thrown out. Showalter said Thursday that he had relayed that message to Brian Roberts, who was thrown out attempting to steal third in Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Red Sox.
Roberts, who had successfully stolen second base, was thrown out at third base in the same inning. Moments later, third baseman Manny Machado got a pitch to hit and took it deep. But Showalter said that you can't assume the hitter would've even gotten that pitch if Roberts was still on base.
"I thought [the pitcher] lost a little focus," said Showalter. "That doesn't mean he would've hit a two-run homer. That doesn't mean that would've happened. ... I like the fact that he stole second. I like the fact that Robby's taking what's there. He wasn't expecting him to throw a fastball up that's easy to throw on. I'm just glad that Robby's feeling good. I dwell on the base he stole a pitch or so before that."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.