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Orioles games of the year 2015: A doubleheader against Cleveland and a season high point

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On June 28th of this year, the Orioles played a double-header against the Cleveland Indians. In retrospect, it was the high point of the season.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of things that can make a game in baseball memorable - a pitcher throwing a complete game no-hitter, a batter hitting three home runs, a team clinching a division title. The game, or games rather, I'm going to write about featured none of those things. What makes those games memorable for me was the feeling that after a couple months of doubt, it seemed like these Orioles were capable of repeating as division champs, returning to the playoffs, and competing for a title. Some individual performances were very encouraging and there was even one of the most hyped and popular giveaways I can remember. Overall, as summer began to kick into gear it seemed like 2015 was about to get a lot better. And even though the season didn't work out as I might have thought that day, it was still a memorable one.

First, some background. The Orioles entered that weekend series with the Indians 38-34, two games behind the division lead. After falling to 23-29 earlier in the month, they were on a roll winning 15 of their next 20 games, with nine of those against divisional opponents. Cleveland on the other hand was falling. They were 33-38 and nine games back in their division.

As weekend series typically do, the first game was on a Friday night. Camden Chat editor Mark Brown wrote about that game here. Not into reading six-month old game recaps? That's OK - the takeaway is that the Orioles won, 4-3. Saturday's game was delayed by weather, setting up a double-header on Sunday and one of the more memorable days at Camden Yards in 2015...

Game One

I remember waking up on this Sunday morning, looking out the window and thinking to myself, "It's a good day to go to a game." One of the conveniences of living 15 minutes from Camden Yards and rooting for a team that does not come close to selling out every game is heading to a ballgame can be as impulsive as heading to a movie. So, after talking my wife and kids into it, packing some lunches, and printing out some tickets for the Eutaw Street section at home, we were off.

We went to the regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon game at 1pm. The delayed game from the night before was going to be later in the day. That was fine, though I was slightly disappointed it meant we weren't going to be getting any Buck Showalter gnomes. We got hats instead, which are always too small for my head, but work for the kids just fine. It was funny sitting down and talking to some people who also had tickets to the later game and how excited they were for those gnomes. It'll be interesting to see if the team can top that giveaway with any of their 2016 promotions.

Ubaldo Jimenez was pitching against Trevor Bauer. This matchup had me a little nervous. Bauer wasn't spectacular, but was a respectable 6-4 with a 3.86 ERA. Jimenez had been having an OK season, but I'm not sure I'll ever be comfortable seeing him take the mound. But as the game went on, you kind of tell this was going to be one the games when Jimenez had it. He ended up pitching eight shutout innings, with seven strikeouts and only four hits allowed (and no walks!).

The offense backed him up that day too, led by Jimmy Paredes (back when he knew how to hit) who was 2 for 2 with two walks and one of those hits was a home run. The Orioles won 4-0. You can read the full recap here. Don't forget to scroll past the recap to read the comments...people were happy. Finally, this team was looking good and in a position to get to the top of the divison with a win in the second game.

Game Two

In the rare 7pm Sunday night start, Chris Tillman went up against Toru Murata who was making his major league debut. Tillman had been struggling to this point in the season (as we would see him continue to do for most of the year), but like Jimenez - he brought it that night. His line? 7IP, 4H, 6SO, 0BBs. The Orioles offense again came to play, putting up eight runs on eight hits, including three home runs.

This may have been Travis Snider's best game as an Oriole, as not only did he hit one of this bombs, but he scored a second run and made the defensive play of the night - a GIF of which you can find in the game's recap here. I like that way Nick ended that recap too, "Today was fun, Birdland". It was fun too. Not only did we get to see the team put up 12 runs over two games, but the two starting pitchers (always a question mark on this team) combined for 15 shutout innings, and the bullpen was great as usual pitching three innings and giving up no runs. The defense didn't commit any errors...it was about as perfect as a team could be. And that win put them into a tie for first place in the division. True, the Indians are not a great team, but it's hard to think of a day last season that could have made any Orioles fan feel better about the team.

...

Over the next few days, the Orioles would actually briefly take over first place by a half game, but that had more to do with their rivals losing then the Orioles doing much winning. After that Cleveland series, the Rangers came to town. No one knew at the time how good they would turn out to be over the second half of the season, but it wasn't just them.

In series' against the Rangers, White Sox, Twins, and Nationals leading up to the All-Star break, the Orioles went 3-10. They never got back to first place in the divison the rest of the season, and the lead by the Blue Jays and Yankees only grew more and more. There's no doubt it was a disappointing season, but I'll always remember that Sunday in early summer, when my team went out for two games and played as well as a team could and won the day. I'll remember watching home run balls land not too far from my seat in center field and the enjoyment of Sunday night baseball. And even though I didn't get one, I'll remember the gnome.

I can't wait until 2016.