For my weekly Throwback Thursday feature, I want to go back to this past year’s Memorial Day game. The Baltimore Orioles found themselves in Milwaukee for the first game of a three-game interleague set with the Brew Crew. Over the weekend the Birds had traded for veteran catcher Nick Hundley from the San Diego Padres, and he made his Orioles debut that afternoon. Little did any of us know what kind of role Hundley would play in the still young season moving forward.
At that time, there were some questions as to the health of Chris Tillman, and that afternoon’s game didn’t do much to alleviate those questions. Tillman’s line that day: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 4 BB, 7 K. The O’s battled a tough Milwaukee team for most of the afternoon, but found themselves down 6-4 going into the top of the ninth inning. Milwaukee brought in former Oriole reliever Francisco Rodriguez to close the game, which in most cases to that point in the season had spelled doom for the opposition.
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However an impressive two-out rally in the ninth quickly turned the Orioles’ fortunes. Jonathan Schoop cut the lead to one with a solo homer, and later in the inning Nick Markakis doubled home David Lough to tie the score. However in the last of the ninth a Hundley throwing error put two runners in scoring position with former Oriole Mark Reynolds coming to the plate. However reliever Darren O’Day induced a line drive to short, and with the runner at third going on contact J.J. Hardy was easily able to complete the double-play.
While Hundley was in effect off to an inauspicious start with the Orioles after that error, he more than made up for it in the tenth. Following a two-out double by Hardy, Hundley singled to left which brought Hardy around third and to the plate. The Orioles took a 7-6 lead into the last of the tenth, and while closer Zach Britton did allow a base runner he also induced a game-ending double play to clinch the win for the Birds.
The Orioles would end up dropping the other two games in that series, however that was an early indication that this Oriole team wasn’t ever going to give up with time left in games. And in fact, even in losing efforts they managed to compete until the final out. That’s one of the marks of a true winner; one who never gives up. And there can be little doubt that the 2014 Baltimore Orioles were true winners.