Baltimore Orioles nearly “Captain” a magical comeback


The Baltimore Orioles can say that they were beaten by “The Captain,” Derek Jeter one more time. But in reality they beat themselves last night with three errors in the field. And I’ll be honest; I’m not overly surprised. The Birds use so much energy and were under so much pressure to clinch the AL East crown, counting down the magic number for the better part of a month. And now that the pressure’s off a bit, it’s not surprising that sometimes things go awry. The question is whether or not they can turn it back on when they need to.

Kevin Gausman gave the Orioles some quality innings, however his outing was cut fairly short due to  high pitch count . Gausman’s line: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K. Nick Markakis and Alejandro De Aza led off the game with back-to-back home runs, giving the O’s a 2-0 lead.

On a personal note I’ll say that I was surprised and very disappointed when I heard the New York fans booing the Oriole home runs.

It was as if they were saying

how dare you do that in our captain’s last home game!

And I don’t think it was everyone in attendance, but when you do something like that you reflect poorly on your fan base.

However New York knotted up the game in the last of the first. Jeter himself sent an RBI-double to center field, and he would later come in to score on a Kelly Johnson error. And the game thusly remained tied for the foreseeable future. Buck Showalter did seem concerned about the errors in the aftermath of the game, however he also agknowledged that the problems were fixable. As I said, it’s really just a matter of being able to turn things back on when the time comes – which will be next week.

With one down and the bases loaded in the last of the seventh Jeter reached on a two-run error by J.J. Hardy, giving NY a 4-2 lead. Brian McCann would add a sac fly-RBI, and the Birds trailed 5-2 going into the later innings of the game. However even in a losing effort, there’s still some joy to be taken in Mudville on this day. Let us not forget that these Fighting Showalters don’t ever give up. While that attitude was typified by Derek Jeter in the last of the ninth, it was first shown on this day by the Baltimore Orioles.

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Nick Markakis walked in the top of the ninth, and Adam Jones later came to the plate with one out and one on. And on a 2-2 count Jones sat on a David Robertson fastball – and got it. His shot was a no-doubter, and I’m not sure it’s landed as of yet. That brought the Orioles to within 5-4, but moments later the game was tied when Steve Pearce smacked one over the wall in left field.

However the night belonged to Derek Jeter, “the Captain.” And perhaps rightfully so. With one out and a runner on second base, his RBI-single sent the Orioles down in walk off fashion. What next ensued will probably be remembered as a moment up there with the retirement of Lou Gehrig, among others. Jeter was mobbed by his teammates – current and former alike – and saluted by the crowd.

Throughout that entire scene, the Orioles (who of course had just gone down to defeat) stood in their dugout and applauded. And that’s something that shouldn’t be lost on people. It sounds like such a simple gesture, but I think it’s rare for a player to be given that type of distinction from an opponent. Cal Ripken Jr. had several times in his career where the opposing team did that, and in both his case and Jeter’s it’s well deserved.

While this was simply the final of many times in which Jeter’s broken Orioles fans hearts, I’m not sure that there’s ever been a classier or more worthy opponent that the Orioles have ever faced. Derek Jeter deserves all of the accolades that he’s gotten, and while many people argue that the coverage of his retirement is overdone, it’s well deserved. He’ll fit in nicely with the likes of Cal Ripken, as one of the greatest ambassadors for Major League Baseball out there.

The O’s will now travel to Toronto to close out the regular season – north of the border. I’ll be interested to see how they play this series, in

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terms of how much time the regulars get in the games. The Birds got Pearce back last night, which is a big help. I think there are still some unanswered questions at third base as well, in terms of who’s on the playoff roster. For what it’s worth, I’d pencil Ryan Flaherty’s name into the lineup at the hot corner for the ALDS; but that’s just me.

As we remember there’s also some bad blood between the O’s and Toronto, and that has to be something that’s going through Buck Showalter’s mind. The Orioles aren’t the type of team to pick something like that up and start throwing at people given what lies ahead next week, however they certainly don’t want to get anyone hurt either. Even last night…before hitting the homer, Jones had a David Robertson pitch fly in the vicinity of his head. (For the record, my personal opinion was that wasn’t intentional and it just slipped.)

Chris Tillman will get the start for the Orioles tonight, and he’ll be opposed by Drew Hutchinson. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.