Cleaning out my notebook

The Orioles haven't won five straight series, something they'll try to accomplish this weekend, since Aug. 4-18, 1998. They went 2-0 vs. Detroit, 2-1 at Minnesota, 2-1 at Tampa Bay, 3-1 at Cleveland and 2-0 versus Minnesota.

We tend to remember it being all bad when Ray Miller managed.

I mentioned last night that the Orioles hadn't played a nine-inning game in under two hours since May 25, 2005 versus Seattle. That one also lasted 1:55.

Rodrigo Lopez beat Jamie Moyer, 3-1, before an announced crowd of 18,820 at Camden Yards. Rafael Palmeiro hit a two-run homer; Sammy Sosa had a sacrifice fly in the first inning; and B.J. Ryan recorded the save.

Your leadoff hitter was Larry Bigbie. Your starting catcher was Geronimo Gil.

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Gil went 1-for-3, but he must not have circled the bases. Otherwise, the game would have lasted 3:15.

Here's the box score.

The Orioles caught Arizona last night. Both teams are 58-88.

Cleveland is 59-86; Kansas City is 60-85; and Washington is 62-84.

There's also a pennant race to follow. Tampa Bay is back in first place in the AL East.

Cesar Izturis made enough plays last night to remind me why I'd be fine with him re-signing with the Orioles this winter. Just beef up the offense so his bat isn't such a detriment.

Manager Buck Showalter heaped so much praise on Izturis last night, for the obvious plays and the more subtle ones, that I thought he might be pushing for another T-shirt night for the veteran shortstop. It also made me feel like he considers Izturis to be a nugget or a pile-jumper or something along those lines.

Izturis's value in the field would increase if Josh Bell is the Opening Day third baseman next year. Bell could use a reliable - and occasionally spectacular - defensive player beside him.

No phone calls to Deivi Cruz, please.

A mini Because You Asked: "Do you think Buck Showalter will get some votes for Manager of the Year?"

I don't think he'll win the award after only two months on the job. He could get a vote or two as recognition for turning around what once looked like a historically bad ballclub, but I just don't see him finishing first after assuming control on Aug. 3.

Maybe I'm wrong. It wouldn't be the first time. Heck, if he runs the table, he should run for mayor.

Felix Pie recorded his eighth outfield assist last night, giving the Orioles 31 on the season, third-best in the American League. They've cut down 15 runners at the plate, seven at third base, and four at second base, and have doubled five runners off first base.

Nick Markakis is batting .370 during his 11-game hitting streak, and .323 in his last 23 games.

It wouldn't surprise me if Luke Scott, Jeremy Guthrie and Nick Markakis finish 1-2-3 in the Most Valuable Oriole voting.

Don't forget about the fireworks after tomorrow night's game against the Yankees.

Vernon Davis is the highest-paid tight end in NFL history.

Vernon Davis is the highest-paid tight end in NFL history.

I thought it might start to make sense if I wrote it twice.

You'll recall that the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation broke ground on June 30 at the old Memorial Stadium site for a brand new youth development park, one of five parks that will be built in the U.S. To help with costs, the Foundation is in the running for a Pepsi Refresh Project grant for $250,000. The money would go directly to the "Swing for the Future" campaign and these youth development parks.

As part of the contest, people are allowed to vote for the Foundation once a day. The top two vote-getters at the end of the month will win the grant. Part of the grant would go directly to the construction costs of the Baltimore project.

Ripken recorded a video on YouTube to help spread the word.

Sports Legends Museum announced that several more guests have joined the lineup of stars for "Gary Williams Hall of Legends Induction," presented by the Baltimore Ravens. The University of Maryland basketball coach will be honored on Sept. 30 at The Hippodrome in Baltimore.

Among the guests added to the evening are former Maryland standout and NBA first-round pick Steve Francis; University of Minnesota coach Tubby Smith; Loyola coach and former Maryland assistant Jimmy Patsos; and former Terp Tony Massenburg.

The event also will include tributes to Williams from his former players, Hall of Fame coaches and other guests, including Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim; Villanova coach Jay Wright; former Maryland standouts Len Elmore and Walt Williams; and ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas. The complete list of guests can be found here.

Proceeds from the gala will benefit Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, Coaches vs. Cancer and the University of Maryland men's and women's basketball weight room project, as designated by Williams. Tickets are available at various levels: $150 includes the cocktail reception from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and the program, while program-only seating is available at orchestra level and in the balcony for $60 or $40.

Tickets may be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 410-547-7328 or visiting www.Ticketmaster.com.

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