Going into Thursday night’s game with Washington I tweeted that the Baltimore Orioles would need Freddy Garcia to go deep into that game with Detroit coming into the yard the next night. Luckily that’s exactly what happened, because the O’s used four relievers in last night’s game after Miguel Gonzalez pitched six innings. Gonzalez’s line: 6 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 6 K. That’s not exactly the line that one looks to achieve in a game, however the Birds were within striking distance when Gonzalez left the game. So in that sense he put them in a position to win the game.
Gonzalez essentially started off in a 2-0 hole when Miguel Gonzalez went deep with one on in the first inning. However keep in mind that this is an Oriole team that’s never out of games, so there was very little panic on the part of the Birds with the early deficit. Furthermore it’s not as if Miguel Gonzalez hasn’t taken a few people deep already this year. The O’s got one back in the second, and then took the lead in the last of the third. Following a Markakis walk Adam Jones hit a shot over the center field fence directly into the batter’s eye. However Detroit would later tie the game on a Victory Martinez fielder’s choice, and they’d take the lead on a Garcia RBI-single. Garcia would later hit a solo homer to expand Detroit’s lead to 5-3.
The concept of “Orioles Magic” was formed on a night in 1979 when Doug DeCinces hit a walk off homer against Detroit to send Memorial Stadium into a frenzy. Over time we’ve seen it rear it’s head in various forms, even up to and including games this year. However it was that one moment, combined with Chuck Thompson’s legendary call, that started the movement that all know as Orioles Magic. Going to the last of the ninth last night, the Orioles found themselves down 5-3 to the same Detroit Tigers. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and legendary moments sometimes take time to build. However Nick Markakis’ solo homer to lead off the inning would serve as a harbinger of what would happen a few minutes later. Adam Jones would follow that up with an infield single that he placed deep in the hole at short. Jones would go to third on Chris Davis’ single, and the Orioles suddenly had the winning run on base…
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…Chris Dickerson came to the plate following outs being recorded by Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy. If you’re Dickerson in that situation, you’re looking for just a base hit off of Detroit closer Jose Valverde to drive Jones home and tie the game. However on a 2-1 count Dickerson got a pitch he thought he could get into. After the game Dickerson would tell MASN that as soon as he hit it he knew he had just hit the first walk off homer of his career. Less than a week after Orioles’ closer Jim Johnson had allowed four runs in the last of the ninth, the Birds returned the favor in a moment that was eerily similar to the DeCinces homer against Detroit in ’79.
I wouldn’t give Chris Dickerson legend status quite yet, however that’s a moment at which one might look back years later and say that it launched a great career for a solid player. More importantly, it gave the Orioles a win in a game that might well end up having playoff implications when all is said and done. It’s important to note that teams go through peaks and valleys throughout the entire season. The O’s were in one heck of a valley a week-and-a-half ago when they went through a six-game losing streak. Now things are going well for them. That said, just a few nights after using a huge seventh inning to defeat Washington, they held off their dramatics until the last of the ninth to beat Detroit.
The series continues today with a 4 PM late afternoon start. Both teams will be sending their respective aces to the mound, as Jason Hammel will be opposed by Justin Verlander. While Verlander is 7-0 against the Orioles lifetime and 5-0 at Camden Yards, he also has an ERA of 8.69 in his last four starts. Furthermore I’m not sure he’s facing the same Orioles team that he did in many of those seven wins, as this is a team that’s dialed in at the plate right now.
Going back to Dickerson for just a moment, I’m not sure that he’s put his name
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up there with that of DeCinces just yet. However he is now a part of the lore of Orioles Magic thanks to his late-game heroics. While it’s easy to use catch phrases such as “good night Irene” in a situation like what we saw last night, I think most Orioles fans would prefer the Birdland classic, Go to War Ms. Agnes!