George Sherrill blew his fourth save in his last 11 chances on Thursday; someday we’ll laugh about all this and induct Sherrill into the Orioles Hall of Fame. Just consider the case of Gregg Olson, No. 6 on Dempsey’s Army’s list of “nailbiters” and a soon-to-be O’s Hall of Famer.
This week’s Flashback Friday takes us back to a simpler time when Steve Finley and Curt Schilling were Orioles, Fred McGriff and Jimmy Key were Blue Jays, and a young Clarence Edwin (Call me “Cito”) Gaston was in his second year as a major league manager, heading up the Jays.
The date: September 14, 1990. The game: Orioles – Blue Jays. The outcome: familiar.
Blue Jays Overtake Orioles in 9th, 8-7;
Olson Yields 3 Runs With 2 Outs
Mark Maske, Washington Post Staff Writer
The once-infallible Gregg Olson continued a recent string of exasperating derailings tonight. The Toronto Blue Jays rallied for three ninth-inning runs off the suddenly mortal reliever to pull out an 8-7 victory over the Baltimore Orioles before 49,893 at Skydome and avoid a second straight blow to their bid to remain in contention in the American League East.
Pinch hitter Rance Mulliniks slapped a two-out, two-run single to left field to tie the contest at 7, and pinch hitter John Olerud followed with a line single up the middle to win it. Olson’s late collapse — his fifth blown save of the season — wasted Sam Horn’s pinch-hit grand slam that keyed a six-run sixth inning and provided a 6-3 lead.
Baltimore was on top by 7-5 entering the ninth after Kelly Gruber’s two-run double in the Toronto seventh and Steve Finley’s sacrifice fly in the Orioles ninth. But Olson, who has allowed 16 hits and 11 earned runs in his last nine appearances, could not hold the advantage.
He has not regained form since being sidelined for nine days this month with soreness in his right elbow. His fastball has lacked its usual zip, and opponents have jumped on his curveball. Such was the case again tonight, with both Mulliniks’s and Olerud’s hits coming off curves.
Olson (5-5) refused to emerge from the trainer’s room afterward, but he clearly was upset with the call of home plate umpire John Shulock on a borderline 3-2 pitch to Fred McGriff. Shulock called the pitch a ball, and Mulliniks’s heroics followed.
Jimmy Key held the Orioles hitless for 5 1/3 innings, then departed with tightness in his right hamstring after David Segui’s double in the sixth. Reliever Duane Ward came on and was hammered quickly and resolutely, yielding two hits and two walks before serving up Horn’s second career grand slam — and Baltimore’s second pinch-hit grand slam of the season.
Baltimore’s Anthony Telford already had departed following a 4 2/3-inning, seven-hit, three-run struggle. But the Orioles bullpen proved resilient until Olson’s demise. Curt Schilling escaped the seventh after Jeff Ballard permitted Gruber’s double, and Olson stranded Kenny Williams at third base by getting Junior Felix to ground to shortstop.
The Blue Jays have climbed back into the pennant chase with a combination of unusual resolve and superb pitching.
When the Orioles got their first hit on Segui’s low liner starting the sixth that eluded the tumbling try of center fielder Wilson, Manger Cito Gaston wasted little time in removing Key.
The floodgates opened soon thereafter. Ward, who had allowed only six earned runs in 37 innings over his last 19 appearances, got Bill Ripken to ground out.
But then Finley beat out an infield hit that scored Segui, pinch hitter Brady Anderson walked and Cal Ripken singled to right to load the bases. Mickey Tettleton drew a walk to force in a run — his 100th base on balls of the season, making him the fifth AL player since 1970 to amass 100 walks and strikeouts in the same year.
Then Robinson sent Horn to hit for Worthington, and Baltimore had a 6-3 lead after he yanked a 1-2 fastball just over the right field wall at the 375-foot sign. The drive gave Horn 12 home runs and 37 RBI in 204 at-bats this year.
Baseball Reference provides the box score from the game.
Sam Horn’s grand slam was particularly meaningful that day, and not just because Roar from 34 happens to love the guy (see previous post: “Sam Horn, he’s on of ours“). In Durham it’s “Hit Bull, Win Steak.” In Baltimore that year it was “Hit Grand Slam, Win Cars.”
Again from The Post: “Horn’s blast surely endeared him to at least one Orioles fan — Don Brown of Edgewood, Md., who won two Thunderbirds for the grand slam in WMAR-TV-2’s home run sweepstakes inning.”