An Orioles Fan’s Lament: Four Games Back Felt Much Better in 1996

Flashback Friday: What really happened between Juan Samuel & the Bird?With their loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night, the Orioles are now four games back in the American League East. That’s the most they’ve trailed all season, which explains the emptiness you’re feeling today in the spot where your soul once resided. Or maybe that’s just me.

Four games back in August doesn’t have to feel awful. In fact, it probably shouldn’t. It simply depends where you started from and whether you’ve surged or scuffled your way to your current location. The Orioles have scuffled.

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He Had One Career Homer, and It Came During His Final Season of Baseball

Jim Brideweser died on this date in 1989. Brideweser had two stints with the Orioles, appearing in 73 games for the Birds in 1954 and returning to Baltimore for the final 91 games of his professional career in 1957. It was in his 261st career game, during that final season, that Brideweser did something he had never done before, and that he would never do again. He homered. His lone homer came in the final season of his seven-year career.

There’s something appealing to me about players who have homered only once in their careers. To quote Doc Graham, albeit in a different context: “We just don’t recognize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening. Back then I thought, ‘Well, there’ll be other days.’ I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”

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This Day in Orioles History: Blue Jay Misery

Mike BordickThis day in Orioles history, Aug. 24, involves lots of misery inflicted on or by the Blue Jays. Fortunately, more of the misery belongs to Toronto rather than Baltimore.

On Aug. 24, 1983, Tippy Martinez picked off three Blue Jays runners in the top of the 10th inning as the Blue Jays were too eager to try and steal once Lenn Sakata was forced into service as the catcher. Sakata then won the game in the bottom of the 10th inning with a three-run homer.

This one ranks an all-time great O’s regular season moment. What is often forgotten is that Toronto homered to start the 10th inning, and Cal Ripken Jr. immediately tied things up with a homer of his own to start the the bottom of the inning.

On Aug. 24, 2012, Chris Davis homered three times to power the O’s to a 6-4 victory against Toronto. Adrian Beltre had homered three times against the Orioles in the team’s previous game, on Aug. 22, versus Texas. The Orioles were the first team to be involved in consecutive three-homer games. 

There was at least one Aug. 24 when the Blue Jays inflicted the misery on the Orioles. It came on Aug. 24, 2002. The O’s entered the day playing .500 baseball but dropped a double-header to the Jays that began a 10-game losing streak that contributed to a 4-31 finish down the stretch.

When I think of collapses during the down years, the 2005 season comes to mind most readily. I must have erased 2002 from my memory bank. A team that was 63-63 at the start of action on Aug. 24 finished 67-95.

On the upside, the Aug. 24 games saw Mike Bordick pass Cal Ripken Jr. for most consecutive chances without an error at shortstop. With four such chances on the day, Bordick’s streak reached 428. He ultimately fielded 544 balls without an error from April 10, 2002 to April 2, 2003.

Bordick’s streak ended in his first game of the 2003 season for … the Toronto Blue Jays.


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Luis Aparicio, the 1966 Orioles, and a Record Number of Five-Hit Games

Peanuts - Luis AparicioI’ve had five-hit games on the brain all week.

It started with Matt Wieters on Sunday in San Francisco, which was the third five-hit game by an Orioles catcher. Bob Melvin (1991) and Clint Courtney (1954) had the others.

Then, Hyun Soo Kim came within one hit of being only the third Orioles rookie with a five-hit game, following Al Bumbry in 1973 and Cal Ripken in 1982. I wrote about that for my weekly guest post on

Since it’s a Flashback Friday, and I’m focusing on the 1966 Orioles this season in honor of the 50th anniversary of the team’s first World Series title, let’s talk about the ’66 Orioles and five-hit games. There’s plenty to discuss.

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Adam Jones Delivers a Clutch … Walk. There’s Not Much History There.

Adam JonesLet’s talk walks. Bases on balls. Free passes.

Adam Jones took a bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning on Tuesday night to tie the game with the Boston Red Sox. (Let’s not talk about what happened from there.)

Jones’ free pass came one day after Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon drew the first walk of his 19-year career after a record 281 plate appearances without one.

It seems guys who don’t make a habit of reaching base via the walk, tallying bases on balls, accepting free passes, are doing so this week. And there’s a relationship of sorts between the two.

Adam Jones has the second-most plate appearances for the Orioles without a walk.  Jones went 182 plate appearances, from May 19 to July 3, 2013, without drawing a walk.

The O’s team record belongs to pitcher Mike Cuellar, who had 192 plate appearances without a walk between May 9, 1971, and Oct. 1, 1972.

Cuellar also went 148 plate appearances without a walk in a streak that spanned the 1969 and 1970 seasons. The latter streak represents the most plate appearances without a walk that an O’s player has had to start a career.

Some other names you might recognize that are toward the top of the list of plate appearances without a walk:

Felix Pie went 142 plate appearances without a walk between the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Cal Ripken, Jr. went 135 plate appearances without a walk in 1999.

Jonathan Schoop had a stretch of 129 plate appearances without a walk between July 1 and Aug. 6 of this season.


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Matt Wieters Quietly Has a Five-Hit Day

img_0204Matt Wieters hit a stand-up triple. That triple gave him the first five-hit game of his career and only the third five-hit game ever by an Orioles catcher. On an ordinary day, these things would qualify as big news in Birdland. Sunday was not an ordinary day.

Wieters’ triple came immediately after Jonathan Schoop’s thrilling three-run homer in the top of the ninth inning at San Francisco that capped a six-run O’s rally. The Birds scored seven runs in the game’s final three innings.

O’s win! O’s win! Ho-hum, Mr. Wieters.

The two previous Orioles backstops with five-hit games were Bob Melvin on June 15, 1991, and Clint Courtney on Aug. 29, 1954. Courtney’s effort was the first five-hit game in O’s history.

Prior to Wieters, the most recent O’s batter with a five-hit game was Gerrardo Parra on Aug. 16, 2015. Meanwhile, Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy are the only other hitters on the current O’s roster with five-hit games.

Have yourself a day, Mr. Wieters. But would you mind keeping it down a bit?




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Today in Orioles History: Frank Robinson Steals One From the Yankees … Again (1966)

Frank RobinsonFrank Robinson stole a would-be home run from Clete Boyer in the 11th inning at Yankee Stadium to preserve a 6-5 Orioles victory on this day in Orioles history, Aug. 11, 1966.

A Sam Bowens RBI single plated Luis Aparicio with the winning run in the top of the inning for the O’s.

Robinson’s one-out catch matched a similar defensive effort he produced against the Yankees two months earlier.

Here’s a recap of The Judge’s dual efforts from “Frank Robinson: A Baseball Biography,” by John C. Skipper.

On June 21, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Yankees, the Orioles had a 7-5 lead when Roy White came up with two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth. He hit a line shot headed for the right field stands. Robby gave chase and, diving over the short right field wall, caught the ball while falling into the seats. Yankees manager Ralph Houk protested that he did not have control of the ball, but to no avail. Robby had preserved the win in this game with his glove, not his bat.

Remarkably, on August 11, he did the same thing against the same team. With the Orioles winning 7-5 in the 11th inning, Robinson dived into the left field stands and snatched what would have been a home run by Clete Boyer.

Skipper’s recap puts the score incorrectly at 7-5; it was actually 6-5. Also, other sources indicate that Robinson crashed into the wall with his glove extended into the stands rather than it being a diving catch. Regardless, the end result was the same: two game-saving catches versus the Yankees in the course of two months.


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