If a team celebrates a special anniversary of a special day in its history and there are no fans there to cheer them on, is there still magic in the air? The Orioles will not answer this question either way on Sunday afternoon, because the result of today’s game against the Yankees was never going to be connected to the fact that it’s the 25th anniversary of 2131, fans or no. But I’m sure it would have been a fun game to go to, if the year 2020 had worked out differently.
I can think of two times where it almost felt like there was something magic going on in the stadium. One of those was eight years ago today when the Orioles played the Yankees on Cal Ripken Statue Night. Another was in 2014 when they celebrated the 60th anniversary of the franchise in Baltimore. Not every magical feeling works out. The 2016 celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1966 World Series champions was torpedoed by Wade Miley’s poor pitching.
We can hope that the 2131 anniversary goes down as one of the better ones. It could certainly prove to be memorable if only because it’s going to be the MLB debut of pitching prospect Dean Kremer, the first significant prospect (sorry, Breyvic Valera) from the Manny Machado trade with the Dodgers to get the call up to the Orioles. The O’s announced that move on Sunday morning.
In an ordinary year, we could have been poring over minor league statistics for months, clamoring for Kremer every time there was a crummy start from a pitcher who was clearly a placeholder. There are no Norfolk statistics this year, no way to know anything that’s been going on at the alternate training site - who is impressing the team, who’s not. It seems Kremer has done enough to make it.
Perhaps, as Casablanca famously concludes, this will prove to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. If Kremer ends up working out as a piece of the next good Orioles rotation, that rotation’s arrival will feel closer. He could have a good game today and still not work out, or a bad game today and still find success later. No one knows what will happen next year or two years from now. But today will be more fun if he pitches well and the Orioles win this series.
It’d be fun because of the tears of Yankees fans who were counting four free wins before this series even began. It’d be fun because the Orioles would keep their longshot playoff hopes alive - a win today pulls them within two games of a spot with 18 games to play. That’s a hill to climb, but not an impossible one.
The Orioles starting lineup was posted atypically late today, only about 30 minutes before the scheduled first pitch. I don’t know why that was the case. Perhaps it was related to checking on day-to-day players like Cedric Mullins and Renato Nunez. Here it is:
- Hanser Alberto - 2B
- DJ Stewart - RF
- Pedro Severino - DH
- Ryan Mountcastle - LF
- Rio Ruiz - 3B
- Pat Valaika - 1B
- Mason Williams - CF
- Bryan Holaday - C
- Andrew Velazquez - SS
That’s, uh... not exactly the A-team lineup backing up a prospect’s debut.
This is the Yankees lineup Kremer will square off against in his debut:
- DJ LeMahieu - 2B
- Luke Voit - DH
- Brett Gardner - CF
- Clint Frazier - RF
- Mike Ford - 1B
- Miguel Andujar - 3B
- Mike Tauchman - LF
- Erik Kratz - C
- Tyler Wade - SS
Masahiro Tanaka is on the mound for New York.