Good morning, Camden Chatters.
Real baseball may be a long way away, but the virtual baseball season is heating up. The MLB The Show Players League tournament continued yesterday, with O’s representative Dwight Smith Jr. playing his second round of games. Just as he did on his first night, Smith pulled out the win in three of his four matchups. And since I’m thirsting for baseball games to recap, even fake ones, I tuned in on Twitch and I’ve got the details.
In a Battle of the Beltways against Nationals star Juan Soto to open the evening, Smith overcame an unfavorable pitching matchup of Max Scherzer versus Kohl Stewart to secure a 3-1 victory. The O’s did all their damage in the second inning thanks to back-to-back homers by Chance Sisco and DJ Stewart. Sisco’s was a bomb that may have landed on the virtual version of Eutaw Street. “Let’s go, Chance! That’s what I’m talking about!” Smith exclaimed on Twitch. Video game Sisco also came up with a fine defensive play, throwing out Starlin Castro trying to score on a wild pitch.
Game 2 against the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter resulted in a disappointing 2-1 loss, thanks to terrible Orioles defense (true to life, eh?). In the bottom of the first, center fielder Anthony Santander failed to catch up to a shallow fly ball with two outs, extending the inning long enough for the Cards to put two runs on the board. “Santander, you can’t play center, bro. What was that? He didn’t even react,” Smith lamented. “He just stood there and froze! Didn’t even move! That’s an easy catch. Come on, man.” Smith’s frustration was mainly aimed at the game mechanics. “Outfield in this game is so unpredictable, so unrealistic at times.”
It wasn’t the last time Smith would lash out at the software. In his next game, versus Trevor May of the Twins, Smith erupted when Chris Davis fielded a bases loaded ground ball and just stepped on first base instead of throwing to the plate. “Throw it home! Throw it home! I’m pressing X!!” Smith shouted. “I pressed X to throw it home and he steps on first base. What is going on right now?” The lapse led to a huge Twins rally, staking them to a 5-0 lead.
But despite the early hole, the game ended up being the most thrilling of the night. It took the Orioles only half an inning to erase the entire deficit and then some. They tacked an incredible eight runs on the board in the bottom of the second, helped by Twins outfielders whiffing on two easy fly balls that turned into extra-base hits (something tells me May agrees with Smith’s criticism of The Show’s outfield gameplay). By the time Smith hit the go-ahead home run with his own virtual self — who he called “Little Smitty” — he was dancing in triumph in front of the camera. “No lead is safe in Camden! That’s the number one rule when you come there!” Smith asserted. The O’s went on to a stirring 8-5 victory.
Smith completed the series win for the night by toppling Luke Jackson’s Braves in Atlanta, 2-1. Jackson tried to throw Smith for a loop by using ex-Oriole Darren O’Day as his “opener,” but again it was Little Smitty who came through with the big hit, this time a two-run double. Smith also got to pit his video game self against reliever Will Smith, his real-life friend. “Me and Will have always been wanting to face each other. Tell Luke to keep him in for me!” Virtual Will won the battle of the Smiths by inducing a flyout, but the Birds emerged victorious.
Smith now has a 6-2 record overall with 21 games left to play. His next round of four games happens tonight, so check out his Twitch feed at 9 PM for the action. What else do you have going on?
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Orioles birthdays and history
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Your two O’s birthday buddies are 1985 first round pick Craig Worthington (55), who spent four years in Baltimore, and 1983 catcher Dave Huppert (63), whose entire O’s career consisted of being a defensive replacement in two games.
On this day in 1992, Randy “Moose” Milligan blasted two home runs (including a grand slam) against the Tigers, becoming the first player in Camden Yards’ young history to have a multi-homer game.
On this date a year later, the O’s blundered their way out of a bases-loaded rally against the Angels after winding up with three runners on third base. Mike Devereaux hit a fly ball that center fielder Chad Curtis trapped, but none of the runners seemed clear on whether he caught it, causing lead runner Jeff Tackett to head back to third while Brady Anderson and Chito Martinez both ran to third. Catcher John Orton tagged all three runners, with Tackett and Martinez both being called out to end the inning. Ouch.