The Orioles’ strange ability to compete with the New York Yankees has been one of the few highlights of a 2018 season when the O’s seem best at beating themselves. You know what’s even more fun? Beating the Yankees with something on the line.
The O’s defeated the Yankees 2-0 behind 6.2 innings of shutout work by Steve Barber to reclaim first place in the 10-team American League on this day in Orioles history, Aug. 7, 1964.
Barber, who allowed seven hits, struck out three, and walked one, went head-to-head with Jim Bouton, who completed seven strong innings but allowed a first-inning RBI single to Brooks Robinson. Barber was coming off his best season as an Oriole when he finished 20-13 with a 2.75 ERA (2.80 FIP) in 1963.
The Orioles tacked on an insurance run on a rare Jerry Adair home run in the eighth inning off of the Yankees’ Bill Stafford. Adair totaled 43 home runs in nine seasons in Baltimore.
The win upped the O’s record to 67-42 while dropping the Yankees to 64-41. New York got the last laugh, however, as the 97-win Yankees claimed the American League by one game over the Chicago White Sox and two games over the 97-win Orioles. That’s three teams with 97-plus wins and only one who advanced to the postseason. The Yankees lost the 1964 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.
The Orioles lost 17-8 to the Texas Rangers on Thursday night and a position player pitched. It harkens back to another lopsided O’s loss against Texas, but I’m not talking about 30-3.
This week’s Flashback Friday looks at the O’s game versus Texas on April 19, 1996, a 26-7 loss that saw Manny Alexander take the mound.
Alexander was no Danny Valencia, who struck out Joey Gallo in Thursday’s brief mound appearance. Instead, Alexander issued four walks, allowed five runs, and gave up one hit – a Kevin Elster grand slam – in two-thirds of an inning of work.
Alexander’s efforts were part of a 16-run eighth inning in which the Rangers totaled eight hits and eight walks versus him, Armando Benitez, and Jesse Orosco.
Alexander reportedly stated “I hate this” when asked about his cameo on the mound, and with good reason.
Harold Baines‘ second-inning home run was all that the Orioles got and all that the Orioles needed as they defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 1-0 on this day in Orioles history, Aug. 2, 1995.
The win gave the O’s a 44-44 record, which was typical of the strike-shortened 1995 season when they flirted with .500 before finishing 71-73. It was the team’s only losing effort in the six seasons between 1992 and 1997.
Toronto rookie Paul Menhart took the loss despite allowing only one hit in eight innings of work at Camden Yards. Mike Mussina got the win for the O’s with a complete-game shutout. Mussina allowed four hits, struck out six, and walked two in upping his record to 13-5 on the season.
Mussina ended the 1995 season with a major-league best 19 wins. It was one of seven seasons in which the Moose had between 17 and 19 wins before finally reaching the elusive 20-game mark with the Yankees during his final year in 2008. Mussina would lose his next three outings following the complete-game effort before running off seven wins in his final nine starts.
The 36-year-old Baines totaled 24 home runs in 1995, the third-largest total of his 22-year career. He left Baltimore to sign with the Chicago White Sox as a free agent following the 1995 season but returned to Charm City in a trade-deadline move during the Orioles’ wire-to-wire run in 1997.
It’s over. We knew it was before now. The Orioles’ historically bad performance on the diamond indicated as much. Regardless, the lead-up to and the arrival of the July trade deadline provided a resounding finality to the entire exercise. The Orioles are bad again and will be for some time.
Gone are Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day, and Jonathan Schoop. Efforts were made to move Adam Jones, and the team parted ways with Chris Tillman.
All eight players celebrated a division title at Camden Yards on Sept. 16, 2014, when the Orioles flirted with the apex of their superpowers. It was the night that Nick Markakis smiled, and the night that many an Orioles fan cried.
Photo credit: Keith Allison (Click on photo for original)
Markakis has been gone for a while now, the Orioles have tumbled from that apex, and now Birdland must navigate the downside of living in the baseball moment.
I won’t compare this to a break-up. That’s too easy.
I won’t compare it to a death. That’s too serious.
So let’s stick to baseball terms. The O’s purge – or demolition, as Dan Duquette described it – is something akin to a playoff loss. More specifically, it feels like an ALCS loss. So close, yet …
It’s July 31, which means there are several Baltimore Orioles history items from which to choose today.
For example …
But today belongs to Brooks Robinson, who entered the National Baseball Hall of Fame on this day in 1983. Read his Hall of Fame bio and then watch his induction speech below. It was a pretty good summer to be an Orioles fan.
Brad Brach shined in his final July 30th as a member of the Baltimore Orioles striking out two Texas Rangers batters and allowing no walks or hits in an inning of work during a 10-6 road victory on July 30, 2017. Brach entered in the bottom of the seventh inning with the O’s leading 10-3 and fanned both Joey Gallo and Delino DeShields before inducing an Elvis Andrus groundout.
Brad Brach photo credit: Norm Schimmel
Brach was one of six Orioles relievers used in the Sunday afternoon contest that lasted three hours and forty-seven minutes. Brach followed Darren O’Day‘s inning of work in relief of Wade Miley and preceded Miguel Castro, Donnie Hart, Mychal Givens, and Zach Britton. Ten pitchers appeared in the game, seven for the Orioles and three for the Rangers.
Jonathan Schoop and Wellington Castillo powered the Orioles offense with a combined four hits, two home runs, and seven RBI. Six O’s batters had a multi-hit game led by Manny Machado with three hits.
The 2012 Wild Card opponents each finished the day with a 50-54 record. The O’s ultimately finished in last place in the American League East with a 75-87 record while Texas finished fourth in the five-team American League West with a 78-84 record.
“Everybody in baseball has their own story about ‘Scrap Iron’ Courtney, a squat, bespectacled catcher who was known to like a beer now and then”
Perhaps you’ve noticed that your Baltimore Orioles have a tendency to strike out rather often. This week’s Flashback Friday focuses on a guy who wouldn’t have fit in well with this year’s team because he did not strike out much at all.
Meet Clint Courtney. A member of the 1954 Orioles who returned to the team at the end of his career, Courtney holds the team record for fewest strikeouts in a season. He struck out seven times in 437 plate appearances in 1954.
For context, Renato Nunez has already struck out seven times in five games. (If you listened to this week’s Bird’s Eye View podcast, you know that I have absolutely zero beef with Nunez and am in fact a fan of his for non-performance-related reasons.) As catchers go, Chance Cisco tallied seven strikeouts in 10 games and 22 plate appearances last season.
Adam Jones has 415 plate appearances thus far in 2018, the most of any Baltimore player and 22 shy of Courtney’s total in ’54 . Jones has struck out 65 times to Courtney’s seven.