Orioles open game with three straight homers

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Orioles left fielder Ryan Flaherty opened the bottom of the first inning of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Rangers with his first major league homer. And it was reason to celebrate. J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis immediately followed with homers of support, making the Orioles the first team in five years to start a game with three straight bombs.

The victim of the barrage was Colby Lewis, who led the AL by allowing 35 homers last season. He’s up to nine homers allowed so far in 2012.

Oddly enough, Hardy also hit the middle homer the last time a team started off with three straight homers. On Sept. 9, 2007, the Brewers opened up with Rickie Weeks, Hardy and Ryan Braun homering as part of a 10-5 win over the Reds.

It was the first time the Orioles had ever pulled off the feat.

A-Rod to join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth

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Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season. This, by the way, marks the second time A-Rod has taken over Aaron Boone’s job given that he replaced Boone at third base for the Yankees in 2004.

The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.

In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.