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MLB 2K13 Perfect Game Challenge: What would the real Orioles throwing a perfect game look like?
The Orioles aren't going to throw a perfect game this year. If they somehow did, though, Mark wonders what it would look like. Who do you think would throw it?
By Mark Brown
The Orioles are one of seven franchises to have never been involved in either end of a perfect game. No one has ever thrown a perfect game while pitching for the Orioles - shocking, I know, that Rodrigo Lopez never reached that lofty plateau - and the Orioles, despite my fear of their awful offense every game through many dark years (and last year), have also never been on the wrong end of a perfect game. That spans 9,346 baseball games since 1954 and not one of them has been perfect.
A perfect game might even be the only thing that could impress Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, who happens to be the last pitcher to throw a solo no-hitter for the Orioles. He'll be sure to remind you of that, too. I no longer remember the exact game - and it's possible I dreamed it - but there was one game where an Orioles pitcher threw a superlative (relatively, by recent Orioles standards) game, and the play-by-play man of the day, who may have been Gary Thorne, addressed Palmer to ask if he'd ever seen a better-pitched game than that.
Palmer, in the way that only Jim Palmer could, replied, "Well, I did throw a no-hitter..." This is why we love Palmer.
One doesn't have to strain very hard to see why there's never been a perfect game thrown when the Orioles were involved. Even in this era of the pitcher, with more frequent no-hitters and perfect games than ever, it's extremely tough to throw a perfect game. The starting pitcher must record 27 outs without ever allowing a base-runner. No walks, no hits, no errors, no umpiring miscues, keeping his pitch count low enough that the manager will not remove him from the game, with increasing pressure mounting every inning. Also, his team has to have scored a run, so the game would be able to end in nine innings.
Skill is involved, but also a lot of luck, and few are the pitchers fortunate enough to have the right defense behind them on the right night to add his name to the ledger of perfection.
If one were inclined, you could bet at +175 that a perfect game would be thrown anywhere in MLB this upcoming season. That's the current odds being offered by the Bovada sports book. That doesn't seem sufficiently enticing to me. You can't find odds on any one team throwing a perfect game. They aren't good. This will probably not be the year the Orioles throw a perfect game, and it will probably not be the year they get perfect gamed. Those are safe statements to make no matter who is on the team any year.
Let's forget about all of that improbability for a few minutes and let ourselves wonder: if there was going to be an Orioles perfect game in the 2013 season, what would it look like? After all, every game starts out as a perfect game, until something happens and then it isn't. You never know.
A player on the other team who has good platoon splits against (righty/lefty) starters is a late scratch from the lineup. It is a cool night game with a light breeze blowing in from left. The home plate umpire is one of those ones who has a tendency to have a generous strike zone, especially the outside corner against lefties.
The Orioles starter strikes out the side on eleven pitches. No one cares because it's the first inning.
As the starter is taking the mound, Palmer says, "Well, Gary, he's perfect so far tonight." This is because he does not care about jinxes. Not even I cringe yet, because it's only been three innings.
The inning goes by with grounders to third, short, and second and is over in ten pitches.
The starter begins to elevate the ball just a little bit and there are three fly ball outs. I allow myself to acknowledge that what is happening is worth not talking about.
A cheeky opposing hitter tries to catch the defense off-guard with a bunt. Matt Wieters pounces and shuts that idea down. What a stupid idea, guy. That's Wieters back there.
There is a ground ball to Chris Davis that necessitates the starter covering first. The runner is fast and it's a little dicey, but the out is recorded.
Fly ball to left-center. You think it's gone off the bat, but Adam Jones is in center field and he knows a perfect game is on the line. He runs and runs and crashes into the fence to rob a home run.
Everyone in the stadium and everyone watching at home realizes that would be "the play" if the thing they won't name happens.
Sharp line drive and your heart sticks in your throat, but J.J. Hardy does that thing he does and spears it with a nice vertical.
Ground ball to the absolute extreme of Brian Roberts' range. He lays out for it, tosses to first. It's a bang-bang play and the runner may have been safe. The other team's manager is ejected.
The next batter strikes out looking on a full count.
The starter is at 115 pitches and it's only a 2-0 game thanks to a Jones home run. Jim Johnson is warming in the bullpen and he will be entering as soon as there's a baserunner.
The first batter grounds out to first in two pitches.
The second batter works a full count before hitting an easy fly ball to left.
The third batter takes two balls to start out. He watches strike one, swings through strike two. Everyone in the stadium is on their feet. It doesn't matter who they're rooting for. The starter is on fumes. He aims for the outside corner, misses a little bit, and the umpire with the generous strike zone is swept up in the moment and rings up the batter. The Orioles charge the mound. Chris Davis bear hugs the pitcher, lifting him off the ground.
The paid attendance is 21,201, which people will later say was fate that the attendance was the zip code of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. One hundred thousand people will claim to have been there.
Let's say that somehow all of that happened. Who do you think is the Orioles starter who pulls it off?