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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Remembering the Curse of the Andino

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Ten years ago today, the Orioles played a central role in one of the most memorable, chaotic nights in MLB history.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

It’s September 28th. Exactly 10 years ago tonight, the Orioles played what was, at that point, their most pivotal game in a dozen years. And the sheer craziness that transpired that evening altered the course of baseball history — and may well have sparked the Birds’ renaissance of the next half-decade.

Unless you just recently became an O’s fan, you surely remember that glorious night, dubbed The Curse of the Andino, in which the Birds pulled off a stunning, ninth-inning comeback that — combined with the other dramatic finishes in MLB that night — eliminated the Boston Red Sox from playoff contention on the season’s final day and completed their unprecedented September collapse.

The Athletic’s Rustin Dodd and Sam Blum recounted the chaos that unfolded that night, which involved the Red Sox choking away their lead in Baltimore while, simultaneously, the Tampa Bay Rays overcame a late 7-0 deficit to win in extras and overtake Boston for the Wild Card spot. The Red Sox entered September with a nine-game lead on the Rays, only to fritter it all away with big help from the Orioles, who went 5-2 against Boston in the final week and a half. And it all boiled down to Robert Andino, the Birds’ light-hitting second baseman, who became the bane of Boston’s existence. He’d already won a game with a three-run double off Jonathan Papelbon in Boston a week earlier before he played hero again in the season’s closing moments.

What do you remember about that night, Camden Chatters? Were you watching on TV, following the action in the game thread with your fellow CC’ers, or perhaps in attendance at Oriole Park? I was lucky enough to be in the press box with my then-girlfriend, now-wife, Stacey, who you might know. We were watching the madness unfold on the field while keeping an eye on the Yankees/Rays game on TV, in exhilarated disbelief at everything that was happening, wondering how we were going to put the night’s festivities into words for our respective game recaps at 1 in the morning. (Mine has been lost to the furthest corners of the internet, but Stacey’s is still live for your reading pleasure.)

After a night like that, it felt like anything was possible, even as it capped an otherwise unremarkable Orioles season. And indeed, the very next year saw the O’s come out of nowhere to win 93 games and make the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Perhaps that thrilling 2011 finale laid the groundwork.

And hey, guess who comes to Camden Yards tonight to begin a three-game series? The Boston Red Sox, currently trying to avoid another last-minute collapse, having just been swept by the Yankees to turn a two-game Wild Card lead into a one-game disadvantage, with the Blue Jays hot on their heels for the second spot.

Could lightning strike twice for the Orioles? I’m not saying. I’m just saying.

Links

‘Why the hell are you here?’ For the second time, asking fans at Camden Yards what they’re thinking – The Athletic
It didn’t take long for media sentiment to shift from, “why aren’t fans attending Orioles games?” to “why ARE fans attending Orioles games?”

Minor Monday: Bowie falls short of league championship, but had a strong season - BaltimoreBaseball.com
In case you missed it, the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate had one heck of a season, putting up the best winning percentage in their nearly 30-year history. Manager Buck Britton has nothing but kind words about his guys, as you would expect.

González on orchestrating Mullins’ solo trip to center field - School of Roch
One of the coolest moments of the season was the Orioles letting Cedric Mullins take the field by himself to the roar of the crowd the inning after he joined the 30-30 club. Coach Fredi Gonzalez explained how the O's organized it, which was essentially through a game of telephone.

What is Baltimore ETA for minor league award winners? - Steve Melewski
Melewski wonders when Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, and Kyle Stowers will get to the majors. If the answer isn’t “next year” for all three, I quit.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Three former Orioles were born on this day: right-hander Mike DeJean, who turns 51, and the late submarining righty Todd Frohwirth (b. 1962, d. 2017) and lefty Grant Jackson (b. 1942, d.2021).

In addition to the Curse of the Andino game, the O’s have played a slew of other memorable contests on this date in history:

  • In 1977, the Orioles pulled out a walkoff win over the Tigers at Memorial Stadium on Rick Dempsey’s 11th-inning RBI single. That gave Jim Palmer his 20th win, and boy, did he earn it, throwing all 11 innings for the O’s in his season finale, giving up just two runs while scattering 10 hits. It was Palmer’s fourth straight 20-win season and seventh overall (he’d add one more the following year). He was the AL Cy Young runner-up that season, behind Yankees reliever Sparky Lyle.
  • In 1996, the Orioles clinched their first postseason appearance in 13 years, snagging the AL Wild Card spot with a 3-2, 10-inning win in Toronto. Starter Mike Mussina pitched eight brilliant innings and left the game in line for his 20th win, but Armando Benitez allowed a game-tying homer in the ninth. O’s second baseman Roberto Alomar, one day after spitting in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck, delivered the game-winning homer in extras.
  • In 2000, the O’s enjoyed their highest scoring game in club history, laying a 23-spot on the Blue Jays. Surprisingly, the Orioles did much of that damage against two future Cy Young winners, Chris Carpenter (who gave up six runs) and Hall of Famer Roy Halladay (who allowed seven unearned runs in relief). The Orioles banged out 23 hits, with eight batters having multi-hit games, and took advantage of four Blue Jays errors. They plated 10 runs in the fourth inning alone.
  • And on this day in 2007, the O’s pulled off a rare ninth-inning comeback against Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera, with Jay Payton’s two-out, bases-loaded triple erasing a three-run deficit in the ninth. The Orioles won the game in the 10th on Melvin Mora’s bases-loaded bunt single. Ironically, that Orioles win allowed the Red Sox to clinch the AL East pennant, four years before the Andino-led Birds ruined them.