July 11th, 2014. People may look at this date and say it was the day Lebron James announced he was going back to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers again, but I think of something else when I look at this date. This was the day I saw my first Orioles win in person since back in 2005.
I was excited to see this game. Partly because I love going to the Yard to catch a game with my dad, but mostly because it would be my first Orioles-Yankees game I would see and my first, and most likely last game I would be able to see Derek Jeter play.
Now heading into the game, the same thoughts were going through my head like usual: “We can win this game. Why not?” However, the thoughts of doubts and woes entered my head after I saw Miguel Gonzalez was starting for Baltimore. Nothing against Gonzalez, but the last time I saw Gonzalez pitch was a couple weeks ago against the Rays when he got chased out of the game in the fourth inning.
Gonzalez played with my heart early on. In the first inning, he sat the side down in order. The next two innings though he gave up two “monster shots” to Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson. In the fourth inning, Gonzalez appeared to get in trouble early with runners on second and third with just one out, but was able to pitch out of the jam by forcing back-to-back fly outs.
After that, Gonzalez pitched outstandingly. From the fifth inning through the eighth inning, Gonzalez did not allow a single hit and only had to deal with one base runner (hit a batter with a pitch in the top of the seventh inning).
Gonzalez did his job and was able to keep the Orioles in the game. The Orioles tied the game up at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning. The team could thank Jeter and starter Hiroki Kuroda for that. With Steve Pearce on first, I saw Adam Jones hit the ball back up the middle and it appeared Jeter was getting ready to make a play on the ball. Unfortunately for “#2,” he did not open up his glove, and the ball kick off his mitt and went into center field, advancing Pearce to third with no outs.
Two errand throws from Kuroda scored Pearce and allowed Jones to advance all the way to third. Chris Davis hit in the tying run later in the inning off a sacrifice fly to left field.
After this inning, the game became a pitchers dual. It was one of those games that if you are a “baseball purist” you could not get enough of. I was one of them. From about the sixth inning on, my hands became clammy and I was on the edge of my seat on every pitch in Section 352.
Being surrounded by Yankees fans during the game, I had to deal with their constant heckling of every out that New York recorded in the game and every mistake the Orioles made. At one point, I heard one Yankees fan yell out in the eighth inning when the score was tied, “It’s okay the Yankees are going to win anyway.”
If this Yankees fan was a fortune teller by trade they might want to find a new occupation. In the bottom of the tenth inning, Manny Machado ripped a lead-off double down the first base side. And after Ryan Flaherty struck out swinging, Nick Hundley stepped up to the plate. It was at this point I was getting so anxious that my hands actually started to shake. Hundley recorded the first hit of the game for the O’s back in the third inning and if he wanted to win this game for his team, he would have to record his second hit of the night.
After working the count to 2-2, Hundley got his wish as he smoked a ball back up the hole into left-center field. This along with Machado’s great secondary lead helped score the final run of the game and give the Orioles that “O-mazing” victory.
Watching Machado slide across the plate and seeing the entire team and Orioles faithful jump up in jubilation was one of the coolest moments I was a part of. After nine long years of not seeing an Orioles win in person, Baltimore finally did it. They not only won with me in the crowd, but they did it in an extra inning, walk-off thriller.
The best moment of this game was when I was walking out of the ballpark as the Orioles fans were hooting and hollering. This team is starting to excite the entire city of Baltimore as they continue to turn heads both in Charm City and the baseball world. If they could win one more game of this Yankees series, they would be at least 10 games above .500 headed into the All Star Break, which would be truly “O-mazing.”