Baltimore Orioles walk off winners on national television


Last night’s game was quasi-meaningless…from New York’s perspective, that is. While mathematically they’re still alive for a playoff spot and they certainly have to play every game as such, if you look at the math is stands to reason that the end is near. The Baltimore Orioles on the other hand are playing for the division. Going into last night’s game before a national television audience the magic number was four. A win would knock it down to three, with the team that they’re trying to eliminate (Toronto) coming to town this week.

The O’s got a solid outing from Chris Tillman, who helped to solidify his ace status before the eyes of the entire nation in prime time last night. Tillman’s line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1R, 1 BB, 6K. Tillman had one tough inning, which was the second. Martin Prado homered to lead off the inning and to put the O’s in a 1-0 hole. New York would proceed to put runners at the corners with nobody out, but Tillman would find a way to strike out two and to induce a fly out to get out of the inning.

And from that point on there were lots of zeros across-the-board that were put up. On occasion someone would get on base, and perhaps even into scoring position. But this was a pitchers duel between Tillman and NY starter Hiroki Kuroda, and both starters held up their end of the bargain. However the Birds finally broke through and tied the game in the sixth. Alejandro De Aza knotched a one-out single, and he scored on Adam Jones‘ RBI-double to tie the game.

As generally happens in the AL East, this game went down to the end – which featured a flurry of action. Again, this game was almost meaningless in the sense that NY has as tough a road as anyone to make it to the post season, and it appears to only be a matter of time before the Orioles clinch. So Orioles fans shou.ldn’t have felt horrible when Brian McCann homered in the top of the ninth to give them a 2-1 lead. New York fans in attendance seemed to think it was a huge clutch moment, however in reality McCann could do that every game for the rest of the season and New York still might end up missing the playoffs. But they all forgot one thing…home team bats last.

Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

NY closer Dave Robertson was brought in for a third consecutive day, and it was immediately evident that he was somewhat fatigued. Nelson Cruz led off the inning with a double to left, putting the tying run in scoring position. He was immediately lifted for pinch runner Quentin Barry, who scored to tie the game on Steve Pearce‘s RBI-double. That brought “Mr. AL East” himself, Kelly Johnson, to the plate with the chance to win the game for his new team against one of his old teams…

…and what did we think was going to happen?! As the song tells us, every game has a different star. Johnson’s RBI-single scored Pearce from second and sent the Camden faithful into a late-night frenzy as the Orioles defeated NY 3-2.

Moments like that are special, especially at the end of seasons that could be shaping up to be special.

However that combined with the fact that it was in prime time on Sunday night make it all the more impressive for the O’s. Keep in mind that teams like New York and Boston would routinely do that type of thing to the Orioles for so long. So by creating that moment, the Orioles also put the entire nation on notice that there’s a new sherrif in the American League East. And sherrif with a little magic up his sleeve to say the least…Orioles Magic at that.

Before the game the Orioles presented retiring NY Yankee Derek Jeter with a check for his foundation, along with a bushel of crabs and a crab mallet that was presented personally by former Oriole Boog Powell. Overall the Orioles fans were incredibly respectful of the fact that it was Jeter’s last game at Camden Yards. While Jeter broke many Camden hearts over the years, there are certain players who transcend the lines of fandom, and he’s one of them. There are few players who did it as well and with as much class as Jeter, who’s a sure first-ballot hall of famer.

While Darren O’Day got the win, Andrew Miller‘s 1.1 IP were as important as anything else last night. As ESPN’s Dan Shulman told me in my discussion with him last week, the 7th and 8th inning guys are just as if not more important than the closer. Miller’s been one of the best in-season aquisitions that any team has made this year, and he’s very quietly fit in very nicely in the clubhouse and on this team.

The O’s open up a three-game set with Toronto tonight at the yard, with the magic number once again being three. A win tonight and tomorrow night would clinch the AL East crown and thus a playoff spot for the Orioles. Wei-Yin Chen is on the mound tonight, and he’ll be opposed by Marcus Stroman of Toronto. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.