The Baltimore Orioles‘ remaining paths of intrigue following a 115-loss 2018 season have been traveled.
O’s fans will “Walk With Elias” as the team’s executive vice President and general manager and sail with Brandon Hyde as the skipper. There’s nothing left to do now except, ahem, Buckle Up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
With Hot Stove intrigue in Baltimore ranking lower than the team’s likely attendance figures for 2019, let’s revisit a time when our beloved contenders were chasing baseball’s “top free agent.”
Hop in the Wayback Machine with me and set the dial for 2015 to see what people were saying about the Orioles’ pursuit of Chris Davis.
Perhaps you’ve seen the story that ESPN’s Michael Wilbon left Sunday’s Chicago Cubs game early and therefore missed David Bote’s walk-off grand slam against the Washington Nationals. That is, ahem, not so grand.
The “time-I-missed-a-great-sports-ending” storyline is a fun one. It can even make for movie magic. You don’t have to like the Boston Red Sox to appreciate the “I gotta see about a girl” scene from “Good Will Hunting.” It’s a classic. (RIP Robin Williams.)
My wife, a Nashville native, was in the process of leaving the Tennessee Titans’ stadium with her parents as the Music City Miracle occurred. The roar of the crowd – and the scene on the concourse TVs – brought them running back to their section, and they celebrated accordingly. She’ll never live that down with me. That was her “time-I-missed-a-great-sports-ending” moment.
I can’t claim nearly as great a story of my own (which is why I shared hers in the first place). The moment that comes to mind most immediately happened a few years ago when the Orioles hit two grand slams in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat the Kansas City Royals. We left during the top of the inning because of our kids and missed both home runs. I’m sure there are plenty of tales – including Michael Wilbon’s – that involve the blaming of children.
So what’s your story? Which Baltimore sporting event do you regret leaving early? And who is to blame?
It’s a fun day for Baltimore Orioles history. After all, Aug. 13 was the day Jim Palmer tossed a no-hitter in 1969 and Earl Weaver stalled his way into a rain-shortened victory against the rival New York Yankees in 1978. Be sure to read this colorful Tom Boswell article about the rain game that speaks to “One of the most bizarre weekends in Baltimore Orioles history” and includes a quote from Lou Pinella calling Weaver “that little shrimp.”
We’ll go a little bit less obvious for this day in Orioles history and focus instead on the second of two career multi-homer games by second baseman Billy Gardner during a 5-3 victory against the Washington Senators on Aug. 13, 1957.
Gardner, a “feisty leadoff hitter,” had a solo homer in the seventh inning and a two-run homer in the ninth inning to up his season total to six long balls. He would not homer again during the 1957 season. Gardner’s first two-homer game came a season earlier on May 16, 1956.
The run support helped starter Connie Johnson to his 10th victory. Johnson posted 10 strikeouts against only one walk during what would be a career-best 14-win season in 1957.
Welcome to the Show, Cedric Mullins.
Adam Jones had his replacement in center field lead the Baltimore Orioles onto the field at Camden Yards Friday night. Mullins took things from there compiling the first three-hit night by an Orioles player making his MLB debut.
As the Baltimore Sun notes, 20 O’s players have had multi-hit games in their first big league game starting with Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson in September 1955.
Eleven Orioles players have played their first game in the show during the 2018 season: Austin Wynns, Steve Wilkerson, Engelb Vielma, Yefry Ramirez, Mullins, Ryan Meisinger, David Hess, Paul Fry, Nestor Cortes, Cody Carroll, and Pedro Araujo,
The Baltimore Orioles have been a comedy of errors in 2018. Just this week the team managed to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 in spite of its defense, which produced five errors and other missed opportunities that didn’t show up in the box score.
Berry Epley (@apps94) hit the mark on Twitter when he commented that the team could use the Benny Hill theme music as its soundtrack for the 2018 season. (Said song is “Yakety Sax” by Boots Randolph.)
As the Baltimore Sun and many other outlets reported, the last time the O’s won while committing five or more errors was with a much better team, the 1983 World Series champions, on June 9, 1983.
The Orioles currently have the third-most errors in the American League behind the Texas Rangers and the Chicago White Sox. Tim Beckham leads the team in errors with 17, three fewer than American League leader Rafael Devers of the Boston Red Sox. It’s worth noting that Devers has played 36 more games than Beckham.
Errors can be misleading when considered in isolation as some of the names mentioned later in this post demonstrate. With that consideration in mind, put on your thinking cap with the smiling bird on the front and riddle me this:
Which two Orioles players have led the American League in errors?
(Hint: One name you would expect; however, some viewed the latter player as being among the all-time great shortstops in baseball.)
The 2010 Baltimore Orioles weren’t much better than the 2018 team record-wise at this point in the season; however, things sure felt differently on this day in Orioles history, Aug. 9, 2010.
A Soon-to-Be Orioles Hall of Famer
Brian Roberts‘ first home run of the 2010 season was of the walk-off variety as the Orioles defeated the American League Central leading Chicago White Sox by a score of 3-2 in 10 innings. Ty Wiggington, the O’s lone All-Star Game representative, also homered. The win was the Orioles’ sixth in seven games under new manager Buck Showalter.
Showalter led the O’s to a 34-23 record down the stretch to avoid what had appeared to be a certain 100-loss season in Baltimore. Prior to Showalter’s debut on Aug. 3 the team stood a season-worst 41 games below .500 with a 32-73 record. Six of the 34 victories to close out the 2010 campaign came by way of a walk-off hit.
Roberts will be inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame on Saturday. As noted by MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli, “Roberts is the all-time leader in virtually every major offensive category among Orioles second basemen.”
Fresh off his lone career All-Star nod, Gregg Olson tossed 1.2 scoreless innings to earn his 26th save and preserve a 4-1 win against the powerhouse Oakland Athletics on this day in Baltimore Orioles history, Aug. 8, 1990.
Ben McDonald got the win versus the A’s, who won 103 games and appeared in the 1990 World Series where the Cincinnati Reds swept them in four games. It was the fourth of five consecutive wins McDonald earned after moving into a starting role in late July. He ended the season 8-5 with a 2.43 ERA (3.58 FIP) and finished eighth in Rookie of the Year voting won by Cleveland’s Sandy Alomar.
Olson compiled a career-best 37 saves during the 1990 season, which stood as the Orioles’ team record until Randy Meyers topped the mark with 45 saves in 1997. Olson was coming off his 1989 Rookie of the Year campaign where he bested the likes of Tom Gordon, future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., teammate Craig Worthington, Jim Abbott, and Kevin Brown.
Thanks to Jim Johnson and Zach Britton, Meyers and Olson currently rank fourth and fifth, respectively, among single-season saves leaders for the Orioles.