In a daily series that will run from today through the day before the All-Star Game in Arizona, I will be counting down my picks for the top ten moments in Orioles all-star history. Number ten is a from a recent game: July 18, 2008 at Yankee Stadium.
As has been the case every season since 2005, the Orioles had just one representative in the All-Star Game in 2008. This time it was George Sherrill, who had racked up 28 saves before the break despite a 4.08 ERA (he blew six saves in the first half).
Going into the 2008 game, the National League hadn't won an ASG since 1996, but they took a 2-0 lead into the seventh inning. Before NL fans could hope for an end to the losing streak (or rather, non-winning streak, since the 2002 game ended in a tie) , back-and-forth scoring in the seventh and eighth innings led to a 3-3 tie.
3-3 is where it would remain for hours, as each bullpen shut down its opposing lineup. With two outs in the twelfth inning, Sherrill finally made his all-star appearance. The AL had only two pitchers remaining: Sherrill and Tampa Bay Ray Scott Kazmir. Due to his pitching schedule, it had been requested that Kazmir only be used in an emergency.
Sherrill first faced lefty Adrian Gonzalez, who he struck out on three pitches. After the AL couldn't score in the bottom of the inning, he returned for the thirteenth. David Wright led off and singled into center field, but Sherrill retired the next three to end the inning.
To that point in the season, Sherrill had not pitched longer than 1.2 innings in any game, and he'd only done that twice. But Francona stuck with him in the fourteenth, and he retired Nate McClouth, Russell Martin, and Miguel Tejada for a perfect inning. Unfortunately the AL couldn't score in the bottom of the inning, and there was no way Sherrill could pitch another inning. Francona turned to his last remaining pitcher, Kazmir, who pitched a scoreless fifteenth and was the pitcher of record when Justin Morneau scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.
It wasn't a flashy event, and one that most people will forget. But for George Sherrill, who had gone from an undrafted pitcher who signed with the Mariners out of the independent league to an all-star closer, it was a shining moment.