You get the impression that last night’s 5-3 win over New York is one that will be remembered in Birdland for some time. The result would have been the same had the score been 1-0…the Baltimore Orioles would lead NY by eight games in the division. However sometimes it’s how one does things that makes the difference between it being solid, and potentially being a ground-shifting type of moment that might have been more about poetic justice or even destiny than anything else.
Chris Tillman recorded a quality start for the O’s, and yet he almost took the title of “hard luck loser.” Tillman’s line: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K. The two New York runs came on a Francisco Cervelli homer in the third inning. Unfortunately for Tillman, NY starter Michael Pineda was equally as good as Tillman. The O’s weren’t able to afford nary a base runner until the fifth inning when Nelson Cruz led off with a double. Cruz would come into score on a Ryan Flaherty sac fly-RBI, which cut the NY lead to 2-1.
Luckily for the Birds, Pineda only lasted five innings after coming off the DL to make the start. New York called Pineda up prior to their initial wishes just to make this start, which shows how important this one game was to them – as well as to the Orioles. Pineda did his job, but at that point in the game the Birds were yet to do theirs.
Due to the later heroics, one aspect of the game which might get lost in all of this is the fact that NY manager Joe Girardi was ejected from this game for arguing an interference call in the seventh inning. I suppose that didn’t have anything to do with what happened on the field a few moments later, however it certainly served as an “appetizer” of sorts for the Orioles fans. Then the fireworks started.
With one gone in the last of the eighth the party started at the yard. Jonathan Schoop, who always had seemed to hit New York well in his limited experience against them, took strike one in his at-bat. However he didn’t wait around long enough to see strike two or beyond. Schoop sent a deep shot to left, which seemed to have some menthol on it. When the ball cleared the fence the Baltimore Orioles had tied the game, and the Camden faithful went into a frenzy.
Later in the inning Nick Markakis would send a soft two-out single up the middle, and Chris Davis would proceed to run the count full. With a 3-2 count and the game, and potentially the future of the division hanging in the balance, Davis…drew a walk. That would in theory come across as an anti-climactic finish to a Davis at-bat…but nothing good happens after a walk.
It’s tough to say why some people have a certain flair for the dramatic. I can tell you that it’s not something that I have in my life; write me a script and I can be deadly, but I can’t just manufacture magic in the moment like some people can. Adam Jones is one of those people. He seems to have the ability to deliver the Orioles from the jaws of defeat when given the opportunity. Nobody rises to the occasion every time, but Jones seems to have a knack for doing it when it’s needed most…
…and last night was no exception. Perhaps Jones’ three-run homer in the last of the eighth
wasn’t the deepest of most majestic shot we’ve ever seen fly out of Camden Yards. But with the stakes of this game along with the manner and moment in which it happened, it might be one of the biggest homers in the history of the park.
New York would threaten in the ninth and even push a run across on an RBI-ground out, but this was the Orioles’ night. The fact is that there’s still a lot more baseball to play this regular season. And the road certainly gets tougher with Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy out of the lineup (although Hardy is expected back this weekend in Cleveland). However that’s the type of earth-shattering win that a team needs at a point as such in it’s history, to signify regime-change at the top.
New York (along with Boston) has been the class of the AL East for the past 15 years or so. Not anymore.