Baltimore Orioles: Leftovers for Throwback Thursday
First and foremost, I hope that all Baltimore Orioles fans had a great Thanksgiving yesterday. (And yes as the title suggests, I am in fact eating leftovers today!) As I;ve said a couple of times this week, it’s always been my favorite holiday. I can’t pinpoint the reason why, but it just is. Nevertheless, I didn’t offer my weekly Throwback Thursday column yesterday because I felt it was more timely to work Thanksgiving into the mix. So here I am now a day late, but gosh darn it we’re doing Throwback Thursday!
The O’s appeared on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball three times in 2014, once against Boston (on the road) and twice against New York (at home). On one hand, there’s no doubt that ESPN and MLB want interesting matchups on their prime time game of the week, and divisional games will always deliver that element. However on the other hand there’s also a portion of the Orioles’ fan base who’s going to suspect that the Orioles are getting billing as merely “the other team” when playing in prime time against those teams. But I digress.
The third and final appearance in prime time for the O’s in the regular season was by far the most dramatic. First off, Chris Tillman further cemented his role as the Orioles’ ace and thus a lock for the playoff rotation. Tillman gave up one run over 6.2 innings pitched. However after his exit and another fantastic effort by Andrew Miller, Darren O’Day made a rare mistake with a 2-0 slider in the ninth inning. Brian McCann deposited that mistake in the crowd, and New York led 2-1.
As I said, ESPN and MLB obviously want intriguing games in prime time each Sunday night. Divisional games always take it up a notch, however anytime it gets to the point of being a one-run game in the ninth inning things get even more interesting. So nobody should have been surprised when Nelson Cruz led off the last of the ninth with a double. He was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Quintin Berry, who was driven home on Steve Pearce’s RBI-double to tie the score.
The Camden faithful seemed to know what was about to happen, and of course at the time the Birds were counting down the magic number to clinch the AL East title. So it was kind of loud at the time in the yard, and even the New York Yankees seemed to catch on quickly as to what was about to happen. The newly-aquired Kelly Johnson came up to bat for the Orioles, and promptly drove in
Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Pearce with an RBI-double, giving the O’s a walk-off win on Sunday Night Baseball.
It doesn’t get much better than that, folks. A walk-off victory on Sunday night at home against your most hated foe – which further trimmed your magic number to clinch a playoff birth. Furthermore, the Orioles further cemented themselves as a next man up type of team. Granted it was merely in a pinch-runner role, a minor league who had received a September call-up (Quintin Berry) scored the tying run. The winning run was driven in by Steve Pearce, who was the next man up all season long.
Perhaps more poignantly, this game finished off a weekend that was somewhat bi-polar for the Orioles. It began with a doubleheader on Friday which was the result of an earlier rain out. Prior to game one of course, the O’s found out that first baseman Chris Davis was being suspended for 25 games due to testing positive for PED’s.
It was a crushing blow – at the time. But in typical fashion, the Orioles battled through it. The won game one in walk off fashion, and cruised to victory in game two. The fell to NY on Saturday, before winning that big game Sunday night. More than anything else, the effort that the Orioles put forth that weekend told the fans that while losing Davis would make things much more challenging, their attitude was give me a challenge and I’ll complete it with joy.