Nick Markakis retires after 15 years with Braves, Orioles

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ATLANTA — After a 15-year career that came up just short of the World Series, Nick Markakis has retired.

Markakis spent his first nine years with the Baltimore Orioles before moving to his hometown Atlanta Braves for his final six seasons.

The 37-year-old outfielder helped the Braves through a difficult rebuilding process that paid off with three straight NL East titles.

A free agent after last season, Markakis told The Athletic in a story published Friday that he was done playing after accumulating 2,388 hits, earning his lone All-Star selection in 2018 and closing out his career in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series.

Braves manager Brian Snitker called Markakis “the consummate pro in everything he did.”

“We got a game away from the World Series,” Snitker said. “I would have loved to do that for him. He was what the Atlanta Braves are all about.”

Even though he no longer fit into the team’s plans, Snitker said Markakis’ presence was missed in the Braves clubhouse. The manager talked with him on Thursday about his retirement plans before he made them official.

“It’s a big hole in there without him,” Snitker said. “We all miss him. Just his stability and the calming influence he had on everybody. It was just a great career. … I felt honored to manage him for the last few years of his career.”

Markakis joined the Orioles in 2006 and played at least 104 games every season until his last, finishing with a career average of .288. He initially opted out of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, only to change his mind and return to the Braves in a part-time role.

He hit a walk-off homer in his first game back and nearly reached the World Series for the first time.

The Braves won two playoff series – their first postseason victories since 2001 – and took a 3-1 lead over the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series. But Los Angeles rallied for three straight victories to advance to the World Series, where they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays.

Markakis started that decisive game in left field, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning with the score tied. The Dodgers won the game 4-3 on Cody Bellinger‘s homer in the bottom half of the seventh.

Markakis twice batted .300 and had a pair of 100-RBI season with the Orioles. He had double-figure homers every year in Baltimore, including a career-best 23 in 2007.

A native of suburban Atlanta, Markakis joined the Braves as a free agent in 2015 while the team was going through a major overhaul. After three straight 90-loss seasons, the Braves broke through to capture the NL East title in 2018, with Markakis playing a key role.

“He brought exactly what we were looking for,” Snitker said. “The stability, the professionalism. He was accountable to everybody. He went through some tough times here. He’s to be commended for that.”

In 2018, Markakis played all 162 games, batted .297 with 14 homers and 93 RBIs, and was selected to the All-Star Game for the first time.

Markakis had a more limited role his final two seasons with the Braves, but was still a productive player and immensely popular with his teammates.

Both teams that Markakis played for congratulated him on his accomplishments.

“We wish you all the best in your retirement, Nick!” the Braves wrote on their Twitter account.

“Congrats to Nick Markakis on his retirement from baseball after an incredible 15-year career,” said the Orioles, who were Markakis’ team for his first nine seasons. “Thank you for the memories, the hustle, and your countless contributions to this organization. Best of luck in your next chapter, Nick!”

Yankees’ Judge heads on road still at 61 homers; 4 games left

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NEW YORK – Aaron Judge won’t break the American League home run record at Yankee Stadium, remaining at 61 as New York headed on the road for its final four regular-season games after a 3-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

Judge struck out three times and walked once, disappointing a crowd of 44,332 that watched the Yankees regular-season home finale in rain for much of a chilly, blustery afternoon. New York finishes the regular season with four games at Texas, starting Monday night.

Judge took a called third strike from rookie Kyle Bradish leading off the first inning, then couldn’t check his swing and stranded the bases loaded when he struck out on a curveball in the second. He walked in the fifth and fanned against Bryan Baker in the seventh, dropping to 1 for 7 with six strikeouts, five walks and a hit batter since hitting No. 61 at Toronto on Wednesday night.

Trying to become the first Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012, Judge tops the AL with 130 RBIs. His batting average fell to .311, four points behind league leader Luis Arraez of Minnesota.

Baltimore (82-77) guaranteed its first winning season since 2016. The Orioles went 52-110 last year and became the first team since at least 1900 to have a winning record one season after losing 110 or more.

AL East champion New York (97-61) took another hit to an injury-ravaged bullpen when Ron Marinaccio left while pitching to Jorge Mateo in the eighth. The Yankees will be without Clay Holmes until the playoffs because of rotator cuff inflammation, and Aroldis Chapman (3-4) was once again wild, walking three, including rookie Gunnar Henderson with the bases loaded, as Baltimore surged ahead in the seventh.

Chi Chi Gonzalez, a 30-year-old right-hander, made his Yankees debut after pitching for Minnesota and Milwaukee in the majors earlier this season. He threw to Jose Trevino, his batterymate at Oral Roberts in 2012 and ’13.

Gonzalez allowed one run, four hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings.

Bradish gave up one run – unearned – three hits and five walks in five-plus innings.

Logan Gillaspie (1-0) pitched a scoreless sixth in his first big league decision, Baker struck out five while getting six straight outs, and Dillon Tate got three outs for his fifth save.

Ryan Mountcastle had an RBI double in the first. Aaron Hicks scored from second base in the fifth when Bradish bounced a wild pitch and catcher Adley Rutschman threw the ball into center for an error.

Cedric Mullins reached on an infield hit starting the seventh against Chapman, has walked 28 in 35 1/3 innings. After Chapman walked three of four batters, Austin Hays followed with a sacrifice fly off Marinaccio.

WEB GEMS

Yankees 3B Josh Donaldson made a backhand grab on Jorge Mateo’s bases-loaded grounder in the sixth and from foul territory made a strong throw for the inning-ending out. … Hicks saved two runs with a sprinting catch on Terrin Vavra‘s slicing liner near the left-field line in the seventh.

FOR THE BOOKS

New York went 57-24 at home, matching most wins at new Yankee Stadium. Baltimore was 38-43 on the road, up from 20-61.

IN THE SEATS

The Yankees drew 3,136,207 for 78 home dates, down from 3,304,404 in 2019, the last season before two years of COVID restrictions. They had 16 sellouts, up from 12 in 2019.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Felix Bautista may not pitch for the rest of the season because of the sore left knee he injured Friday.

Yankees: Matt Carpenter (broken left foot on Aug 8) will not work out initially in the outfield at the Somerset, New Jersey, training camp this week. He was moved to the 60-day IL on Sunday, ruling him out of the Texas series. … RHP Miguel Castro (strained shoulder) could be activated Monday. … LHP Wandy Peralta, sidelined since Sept. 18 with back tightness, threw a bullpen session and will face hitters at Somerset on Tuesday or Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Dean Kremer (6-8, 3.17) starts Monday’s opener of a season-ending series against visiting Toronto and Jose Berrios (11-7, 5.37)

Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (6-3, 3.41) starts Monday in the opener of a four-game series at Texas and LHP Martin Perez (12-7, 2.93). After Wednesday, the Yankees have five off days before their Division Series opener at home on Oct. 11.