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.
Were you to close your eyes and hear the following quote read aloud, you might think it came during the 2018 Baltimore Orioles season: “I always felt, from the beginning, we had the players here to win, but we haven’t put it together, and it’s hard to understand why we haven’t. This is the low point in the season right now.”
Rafael Palmeiro uttered those words on this day in Orioles history, July 26, 1996, after the Cleveland Indians pinned a 14-9 loss on the Birds to drop the team to 50-51 on the season. Unlike the 2018 Orioles, who would have trouble identifying the definitive low point in their season, the 1996 team figured things out and ultimately made the postseason.
Mike Mussina allowed an uncharacteristic eight runs in only 3.2 innings of work in his late-July start to drop his record to 11-8. Four of those runs came in the top of the first inning and included Jim Thome‘s 440-foot two-run homer that landed on Eutaw Street. It was the 10th Eutaw Street home run in Camden Yards history.
Zach Britton was not a member of the New York Yankees organization on this day in Baltimore Orioles history, July 25, 2014. Instead, Britton picked up his 19th save of the season as the O’s defeated the Seattle Mariners in 10 innings.
Zach Britton photo credit: Norm Schimmel
Chris Davis led off the 10th inning with a home run to right field that proved to be the difference on the scoreboard. Teammate Nelson Cruz – not yet a Mariner performing well at the end of a contract that he couldn’t get from the Orioles – homered off the then-potent Felix Hernandez in the second inning for the Orioles’ other run. It was Cruz’s 29th homer of the season and served as the lone blemish on Hernandez’s seven-inning pitching line that included 10 strikeouts and no walks.
Kevin Gausman = still an Oriole at the time of this writing – countered Hernandez with 6.1 innings of work. Gausman allowed seven hits and paired a trio of strikeouts with a trio of walks but managed to hold the Mariners to one run. Said run came on a Kendrys Morales sac fly following Robinson Cano’s lead-off triple in the bottom of the sixth inning. Brian Matusz – not yet a LOOGY – struck out three batters with no walks in 1.2 innings of relief work.
Brady Anderson homered twice in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome to help power the Orioles to a 9-2 victory against the Minnesota Twins on this day in Baltimore Orioles history, July 24, 1993.
Anderson and designated hitter Harold Baines each finished the game with three hits while pinch hitter Jeffrey Hammonds, appearing in his 23rd career game, went 2-for-2 with three RBI.
Soft-tossing lefty Jamie Moyer picked up the win for the Birds with 6.1 innings of work during which he allowed one run, struck out five, and walked none. Jim Poole picked up the save with 1.2 innings of shutout work. Poole finished his 11-year career with four saves, two of which came for the O’s during the 1993 season.