“Orioles Classics” #TBT: Prelude to the Fall Classic

As we turn the page to February, we can now see spring training on the horizon, and with a pack of young big league hopefuls vying for spots on what is now a wide-open roster, it bears watching. So don’t forget to check out MASN’s broadcasts of Orioles games in the Grapefruit League in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the upcoming bunch of “Orioles Classics” will take you back to some noteworthy moments in O’s history, including the first game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Cal Ripken Jr.’s record-breaking night in 1995 and all four games of the 1983 American League Championship Series, in which the Birds triumphed over the White Sox en route to a world title.

Thursday, Jan. 31, 7 p.m. - Aug. 16, 2015 at Camden Yards wasn’t exactly historic, but it sure was fun. The Orioles offense flexed its muscles in an 18-2 win over the Athletics that included a nine-run fifth inning. Manny Machado, Gerardo Parra, Henry Urrutia and Adam Jones notched three RBIs apiece. Caleb Joseph had four, including a home run and a double. Lefty Wei-Yin Chen got it done for the O’s on the mound, striking out seven while allowing just two runs over six innings to get the victory.

Saturday, Feb. 2, 8:30 p.m. - April 6, 1992 marks the dawn of the great ballpark renaissance. That’s the day that Oriole Park at Camden Yards - the template for all big league venues built subsequently - hosted its first regular season contest. Veteran hurler Rick Sutcliffe, who came to the O’s in the offseason as a free agent, threw the first pitch to Cleveland Indians center fielder Kenny Lofton. The 44,588 on hand would see both Sutcliffe and Tribe starter Charles Nagy go the distance, surrendering five and six hits, respectively. But Chris Hoiles and Bill Ripken made their hits count, as each plated a run for the Birds in the fifth. With a 2-0 O’s victory, the baby ballpark was off to a great start.

Sunday, Feb. 3, 12 p.m. - The 1983 White Sox boasted some real power bats, including Ron Kittle (35 home runs), Greg “The Bull” Luzinski (32) and future Hall of Famer Cartlon Fisk (26). Their pitching staff included a couple of 20-game winners in LaMarr Hoyt (24-10, 3.66 ERA) and Richard Dotson (22-7, 3.23 ERA). The Orioles made sure not to take the American League West champs lightly heading into the ALCS that year. Game 1 took place at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 5 as 51,289 watched. Hoyt and Scott McGregor locked horns in a real pitchers’ duel. Tom Paciorek’s RBI single with two out in the third broke the ice. Paciorek made it home in the sixth on Kittle’s double play grounder. The O’s kept fighting, and Cal Ripken Jr.’s single to left drove in pinch-runner Tito Landrum with two out in the ninth. But Eddie Murray grounded out, and Hoyt got the complete-game victory. It would be the only White Sox win in the best-of-five series.

Monday, Feb. 4, 12:30 p.m. - Thirty years after the O’s dashed the Southsiders’ World Series hopes, the White Sox would endure more aggravation in Baltimore, suffering a series sweep at Camden Yards Sept. 5-7, 2013. The finale proved especially vexing for them. Conor Gillaspie homered down the right field line off Tommy Hunter to break a 2-2 tie in the top of the 10th inning, and Addison Reed, who had a career-high 40 saves that year, was waiting in the wings. But after getting J.J. Hardy to ground out, he gave up back-to-back singles by Urrutia and Nick Markakis. Markakis stole second during the next at-bat, but Reed struck out Nate McLouth to get the Sox within an out of a win. Matt Wieters, though, stroked a single to right to score two and give the O’s the walk-off.

Monday, Feb. 4, 7 p.m. - Mike Boddicker dominated in Game 2 to bring the Birds even with the White Sox in the 1983 ALCS, scattering five hits while striking out 14 in a complete-game shutout on Oct. 6. Gary Roenicke drew two bases on balls and hit a double and a home run off Floyd Bannister to lead the O’s offense. Ken Singleton’s fourth-inning double drove in Roenicke. Boddicker hit Luzinski leading off the ninth, then gave up a Paciorek single, but despite a walk to Jerry Hairston hung on to preserve a 4-0 victory.

Tuesday, Feb. 5, 7 p.m. - The Orioles jumped out early then finished strong to administer an 11-1 beatdown in Game 3 in Chicago. Murray hit a three-run homer off Dotson in the first. Al Bumbry’s double brought in Rick Dempsey in the second. John Lowenstein’s double in the fifth made it 6-1. Things settled down until the eighth, when Todd Cruz hit a single that drove in Murray and sent Jim Palmer - pinch-running for Singleton - to second. All doubt about the outcome vanished in the top of the ninth as a bases-loaded walk, an error and two sacrifice flies added four runs to the O’s total. Mike Flanagan got the win, Sammy Stewart the save. Game 4 airs on Friday, Feb. 8. Look for a synopsis in next week’s “Orioles Classics” preview.

Wednesday, Feb. 6, 11 a.m. - One of the great victory laps in sports history happened at Camden Yards on Sept. 6, 1995. It was a feel-good moment toward the end of a season that had started - or not started - on a sour note. The previous season had been cut short by a players’ strike, and with no labor agreement in place, the 1995 season was delayed. But fans forgot all of that as Cal Ripken Jr. closed in on a record most thought untouchable: Lou Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 consecutive games played. Once the fifth inning of the O’s Sept. 6 match with the Angels was complete, Ripken had officially surpassed it. Rafael Palmeiro and Bobby Bonilla gave the soft-spoken shortstop a playful shove onto the warning track in front of the Orioles dugout, and he started trotting along, high-fiving fans as he went. He ultimately circled the entire ball yard, and the game was delayed 22 minutes while the cheers swelled. The game itself was fun too, a 4-2 O’s win behind 7 2/3 strong innings from Mike Mussina and home runs from Ripken, Bonilla and Palmeiro, who had two.

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