Manager Buck Showalter couldn’t return to his office after meeting with reporters until he returned to the field through the home plate entrance and waved to fans who refused to go home.
Pitcher Tommy Hunter tossed baseballs into the stands.
It felt like the final regular-season game in 1979, except this wasn’t Memorial Staidum and the Orioles weren’t heading to the playoffs.
The Orioles rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the Red Sox, 4-3. A few minutes later, Tampa Bay had completed its incredible comeback from a 7-0 deficit to beat the Yankees in 12 innings.
Robert Andino singled off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon with two outs to score Nolan Reimold and set off a wild celebration, most of it spilling out between second and third base.
“I think it’s the only time I really haven’t spoken to the team as a group after a game, the last game of the season, because it’s pretty tough to top that,” Showalter said. “There’s not a whole lot to say. Just how proud I am of them and the way they competed. We kind of got our rotation straightened out and started getting deeper in some games this last extended period of time with Tommy (Hunter) and (Alfredo) Simon and Jeremy (Guthrie) and Zach (Britton), and things have been a lot more competitive for us.
“I was real proud of our fans, how many people hung around here through the rain delay. I don’t think anybody thinks about what time it is right now. Really feel lucky to be able to sit there and watch that. Special.”
Nick Markakis left the game in the ninth inning with a bruised pelvis.
“Nick doesn’t want me to say anything to you all before tonight. I have to now. He’s been playing with this,” Showalter said.
“He just couldn’t go anymore. You never see him not run down to first base on that last at-bat. He’s got a pretty deep bruise in his abdomen. That’s been going on for a while now, but he doesn’t want to come out of the lineup. Like I’ve been saying, professional integrity and the competition. He wants to be there. He played in his 160th game tonight, and probably about 30 of those he probably shouldn’t have played in, but that’s what people miss, the essence of what Nick’s all about. You can take your pick how many times he’s come up bleeding.”
Asked if he was aware of the wild finish at Tropicana Field, Showalter replied, “We were watching in here. We’re fans of the game. It’s not wishing any ill will on anybody. They watch the games and they know the people and the competition and the level it’s played and how good the pitching is and the things that happen. But I’ve also been in that other clubhouse across the way in a similar situation and it’s really tough.”
Here’s more from Showalter:
“Last year our record was better than the year before, and this year it’s better than last year, and I want to keep that up. It may not seem like much to a lot of people who just look at it purely by the numbers, but it’s inch by inch, claw by claw. We didn’t get where we were overnight and we’ve got to keep that type of relentlessness and not be denied. I don’t pay a lot of lip service about what we’re going to do and not do. Let’s see it. That’s what I’d be saying if I were the fans.”
Showalter was amused by the pile of players in the infield after Andion’s dramatic hit.
“A lot of times with things like that when it happens, you worry about is everybody going to get out of it unscathed. We don’t have to worry about it, unfortunately,” he said.
“I was coming down here and there’s Mr. Andino walking down the hall. I have to think that’s pretty cool. Robert was pretty upset about the previous at-bat. They had a couple chances to really blow it open and our guys just didn’t give in. So many guys banged up. Players refused to not be in that lineup tonight and really the last month. I’m proud of it and I certainly have some empathy with what Boston must be going through emotionally right now. Until you’ve been on the other side of this, it makes you understand there’s two sides of everything like this. From what I understand, Atlanta’s feeling the same way right now.
“It’s a heartless game sometimes but I’ve found out through the years that the baseball gods, so to speak, always let you up off the deck if you’re true to what’s right and you just keep grinding. They eventually will reward you for that, and I keep telling our guys that. It was nice to get a return for that here.”