I don't mean to step on anybody's toes with this fanpost, but I was at today's game and I don't see the post-game now that I'm back at home. I'm pretty excited. So I figured I'd start writing and see what comes out.
At the start of today, the omens for an Orioles victory were simply not present. A day game, series finale, pitching against Roy Halladay, with the 7-8-9 slots of the line-up being occupied by Pie, Moeller and Andino. Moeller who had already been told he would be sent down on Friday to make way for Wieters. But it was Ollie's Bargain Day, meaning $9 "upper reserve" tickets so I decided to make the trip to Oriole Park at Camden Yards and see if, in spite of all reasons to believe to the contrary, the team could bring a little Orioles Magic to Birdland.
I think it's safe to say that a new MASN "defining moment" commercial was launched today.
The game looked like it was going to be a long one from the top of the first. Rich Hill did not look very sharp throwing, and did not help himself in committing an error that led to a run and an early 1-0 deficit. There was hope resurgent for Birdland, because Luke Scott decided he'd had enough of the disabled list and took Halladay deep in his first at-bat. Unfortunately, there was still more Rich Hill to contend with and the wheels fell apart for him in the top of the 4th with six Blue Jay runs crossing the plate in a half-inning that felt like it lasted for an entire hour. With the score 7-2 in favor of Toronto, a comeback against Halladay seemed unlikely. Indeed, by the time he left the game after pitching seven innings, the deficit was 8-3.
Even among the faithful fans who remained, there was some grousing - playing out the string, wanting to stick it out to the end, but not really expecting to make the comeback.
Then, Birdland happened.
First it was, "Gee, if Huff homers, we'll only need a grand slam to tie." Then Huff got on base. Then Mora got on base. Then Scott got on base. Suddenly it was a grand slam to be down a run. Only, Chad Moeller came up with the bases loaded and one out and everyone expected a GIDP. Instead there was an HBP. Then Robert Andino (at that point 3-for-3) came to the plate and everyone expected a GIDP. Instead, he became 4-for-4 and the deficit was lowered still. Toronto brought in another reliever but could not stem the onslaught: Roberts, Jones, and Markakis all followed with RBIs to the the score.
Too bad Juan Samuel got greedy and tried to send Jones home on Markakis' double to deep right. It looked even worse in person than it probably did on TV. Jones never had a chance. Still... 8-8 and a whole new ballgame. Birdland.
Danys Baez made a Birdland contribution at first by working two scoreless innings and coming out for the top of the 11th. He gave up a home run to Aaron Hill and that seemed to be the end of Birdland for the day. Overcoming an 8-3 deficit in a Halladay-started game and then coming back to win in extra innings was too much, right?
But Birdland was not through for the day. Former Oriole BJ Ryan allowed a single to Nick Markakis and suddenly the tying run was at the plate. Though he did retire Aubrey Huff, apparently he's only a LOOGY now and a right-hander came in to face the rest. Melmo singled. Winning run was at the plate. Scott singled and it was suddenly a one-run game with the tying run on third and one man down.
To the plate stepped Nolan Reimold, who'd pinch-hit for Pie earlier in the game. Righty against righty, with all of OPACY praying for a ball deep enough to just score the tying run and keep it going. Reimold, I think, was a bit tired of hearing about Matt Wieters. He decided to just end the game with a three-run homer.
As the fans filed out of the stadium, we were serenaded by the strains of Orioles Magic. I don't think there is any doubt: Orioles Magic is Birdland. Today we got a whole hell of a lot of both. It is a good day.
Some notes that didn't seem important enough to mention in chronological order:
* Felix Pie made a real nice throw to gun down a runner at the plate to end the top of the first. That damage could have been worse.
* Chris Ray did not look all that good in his relief appearance.
* Yours truly made it onto the Jumbotron during the 7th inning stretch. I don't actually expect any of you care, but that had never happened to me before and I was excited, so it's worth mentioning to me. Deal with it!
* Ollie's Bargain Day is an even better bargain when you pay $9 for your ticket and sit in section 82 instead of section 382. Much has been made of uptight ushers at OPACY lately, but I didn't encounter any today and I got to watch a great game from a great angle at a great price.