When I walked into Oriole Park at Camden Yards on a random Tuesday night in June, I had no idea that I was about to witness franchise history. When I walked out later in the night, the Orioles had hit eight home runs to blow out the Phillies, 19-3. The eight home run game was something no Orioles fan had ever seen before because it had never happened before that night. This was my favorite game of the season by far.
The best thing about baseball compared to any other sport is the way that any given game can produce something special. True, many games are relatively run of the mill affairs where the final score is 4-2 and nothing particularly noteworthy happens. But sometimes you get a game where something happens that's never happened before, and you'll never know it ahead of time.
When a game begins, the possibilities are infinite. Maybe tonight will be the night that somebody his three home runs, or four home runs. Maybe somebody is going to strike out 20 batters. Or a batter could manage to hit for the cycle. There could even be a perfect game or a no-hitter thrown. After all, every single game is a perfect game on both ends until the game unfolds and it suddenly isn't.
People make fun of me on this website for my pessimism, so it may be a bit of a surprise to learn that every time I sit down to watch an Orioles game, and especially the ones where I'm in attendance at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I have at least some small hope that maybe today will be the day I get to see an Orioles no-hitter.
I didn't get my no-hitter this year, though of course I did watch the Orioles get no-hit. Unless you're over 45, you've been waiting your whole life to see an Orioles pitcher throw a no-hitter. The franchise's last one-pitcher no-hitter was Jim Palmer's on August 23, 1969. Thankfully, this is not the only way an Orioles game can turn historic, and on a random Tuesday in June, I got to watch the Orioles make some history against the Phillies in what was easily my favorite O's game of the season.
The Phillies were a bad baseball team this past season. Everyone knew it going in, and the way they played confirmed it. By the time the O's met up with the Phillies that night, the Phillies were sporting a 22-43 record. The O's still had pretensions of contention, entering the night three games back in the division; they'd pull themselves into a tie for the lead by month's end.
So, the fact that the Orioles ultimately blew out that bad Philly team, 19-3, is not a great surprise in and of itself. What was unexpected and historic was the fact that the Orioles hit eight home runs in the game. You don't expect even a horrible baseball team to give up eight homers, nor do you expect a prolific home run-hitting team to hit eight homers in one game.
How to hit eight home runs in one game
The home runs got underway with the first Orioles batter of the game. Manny Machado led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run against Phillies starter Jerome Williams, the kind of journeyman against whom the O's often seem to struggle. Though the Orioles scored six runs in that first inning, Machado's was the only home run in the inning, so there was little early sign of history about to be made - even when Machado led off the second inning with another home run.
By the time the dust settled, six different Orioles combined for the eight home runs. Two of them were hit by Chris Parmelee, who was playing in his first big league game of the year. A Chris Davis home run in the fourth inning landed out on Eutaw Street, which also made some history. Davis, with his seventh Eutaw bomb, took over sole possession of the top spot for most career Eutaw homers. He was previously tied with Luke Scott.
As the game moved along, there was even another one of those uncommon joys that show up in a baseball game, particularly in a blowout. The Phillies used a position player to pitch. Jeff Francouer wasn't even in the starting lineup that night, but as desperation set in, helped in part by Phillies pitcher Justin De Fratus being ejected for throwing at J.J. Hardy, he was summoned.
When Francouer entered the game, the Orioles had seven home runs to their credit. History was not made right away. Francouer actually got through a perfect inning, but he had to come in to pitch the seventh inning, so there was still one more to get through.
What kind of idiot has a position player pitch two innings? A very desperate one indeed. The first pitch from Francouer in the eighth inning went right down the pipe, and Ryan Flaherty did not miss it. As a wise man once said, boom goes the dynamite. The Orioles were in the history books.
Even with history made, the absurdity of the night had not come to a close. Francouer went on to hit a batter and give up a bunch of walks. He was being left out to dry because the Phillies bullpen phone was off the hook. The dugout had to wave a towel to get their attention out there and it looked a lot like the Phillies were trying to surrender. There is no surrendering in baseball.
This was just one of the 81 wins the Orioles notched in 2015. History was made, and I was there to see it. That makes this one my favorite. But I'm still waiting for that no-hitter.