So this is it, the number one game I’ve seen in the 25 years of O’s baseball at Camden Yards. It’s been some two and a half years since I posted this summary and it still works for me. I’m still hoping to see that World Series game but in the meantime, this one will have to do.
“Mark came up from Charlottesville last night and we journeyed up to Camden Yards for Game 2 of the ALDS – O’s against Detroit. Stadium packed. Crowd, all in orange, energized to the max. In retrospect the game seemed to be divided into seven distinct stages.
Stage one: the first three innings. Both starting pitchers, Chen for the O’s and Verlander for the Tigers were comfortably in control. All the fans around us were keeping careful track of Verlander’s pitch count.
“We can’t wait to get into Detroit’s bullpen” was the common refrain. Detroit has a notoriously weak bullpen but excellent starting pitchers.
Stage two: Nick Markakis hits a line drive homerun with one on in the bottom of the third. Crowd erupts. Everyone is happy.
Stage three: Top of inning four. In a matter of about fifteen minutes the heart of the Tiger batting order (Hunter, Cabrera, Victor Martinez, JD Martinez, Castellanos – five hitters) produce five quick Detroit runs. Very impressive. Chen exits. Crowd is stunned.
Stage four: Gausman pitches well for the O’s in relief allowing the game to remain close. Verlander throws lots of pitches and eventually is taken out. Crowd rejoices. Sanchez (who normally is a starter) comes in and shuts down the Birds bats. The innings go by. Crowd hangs in there, cheering for their Birds, but things do not look good.
Stage five: Bottom of the eighth with the Tigers up 6-3. For reasons that are not readily apparent Detroit manager removes Sanchez from the game and brings in Joba Chamberlain. This greatly excites the crowd. With one out Joba hits Adam Jones. Noise level rises. Then Cruz singles. Noise level rises even more. Then Pearce singles scoring Jones. Joba exits to the grateful cheers of all. Soria is the new pitcher. He walks Hardy. Bases are now loaded with the Tigers still up 6-4. Crowd excitement level is off the charts. Everyone is waiving their orange towels (actually they have been waving them all game). Buck sends the much maligned Delmon Young into pinch hit. Now as my SABR friends like to point out, there are many things Delmon Young can’t do. He can’t field; he can’t throw; he can’t run (run fast, anyway). The one thing Delmon Young can do however is hit the baseball.
Soria throws and Young swings. The result is a line shot over third base heading for the left field corner. I wish I could describe the ensuing play in great detail but in truth, the only thing I retain from that play is the sight of Orioles base runners whizzing around the bases at top speed accompanied by the roar of the crowd; so load; so deafening; that it actually hurt your eardrums just to listen. When the last Oriole runner had slid across home plate and Young had pulled up at second base I finally realized that the Birds had pulled into the lead 7-6.
Stage six: Zach Britten comes in to pitch the top of the 9th. There is no fight left in the Tigers. Three up. Three down. One last crowd explosion. Everyone is happy (delirious actually).
Stage seven: Massive traffic jam trying to get out of parking lot. No one seems to care.
So that’s it. I’m especially glad that Mark got to see it. He’s been an O’s fan since ’98 and has seen many, many dismal Orioles games (seasons). This one was special.”