Shortly before tonight’s game started at Camden Yards, Orioles manager Buck Showalter turned to bench coach John Russell and said, “Boy, this place is hoppin’.”
The electric atmosphere didn’t go unnoticed.
“It was cool,” Showalter said following the Orioles’ 4-2 win over the Yankees in the first ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game in Baltimore in eight years. “You could tell there was some real energy in the park, and it meant a lot to us, but we’ve got to continue to do the things that keep our fans energized. And that’s up to us, like I’ve been telling you since the day we started trying to get this done. We’ve got a long way to go.”
The miles are melting away.
The Orioles completed their first three-game sweep of the Yankees at Camden Yards since April 15-17, 2005. They’ve won five straight at home vs. New York for the first time since Oct. 3, 1981-June 21, 1983, when they won 10 in a row.
Since July 29, 2012, the Orioles have the best winning percentage in baseball at .611 and the most wins with 88.
With the heat and intensity, tonight’s game had the feel of a late-season affair.
“I know it probably was on the fans’ part,” Showalter said. “When you’ve gotten your nose bloodied as much as we have through the years, every opportunity to take another step toward where you want to go is... it certainly touches your emotions.”
Jim Johnson walked another tightrope before recording his 100th career save. How big was it for him to nail down the win on national TV after his previous struggles?
“I don’t think Jimmy dwells on those things,” Showalter said. “We were finally able to give him some rest. He was a lot crisper tonight, and I was finally able to give him that extra day. And with the off-day tomorrow, he should be in good shape.”
“Wieters told B-Rob, ‘Nice going, but could you hit that about 10 feet further?’” Showalter said. “Puts a lot of anxiety on these legs that have been catching a lot this week. With all these straight night games, Matty’s been posting up a lot, so I know he’s looking forward to the travel day tomorrow.”
Roberts provided a reminder of what he can offer at the bottom of the lineup if he stays healthy.
“We had him barely three games, and he was off to a good start,” Showalter said. “It’s been a long road for him. A lot of guys would have pulled the dirt in around them, but he wants to come in and contribute and be a part of what we hope to do this year.
“I asked him, ‘Have you ever had your 1st AB after 9 o’clock?’ He handled it well.”
Chris Tillman recorded his 10th victory and his career-best seventh in a row.
“Tilly was solid,” Showalter said. “I thought he had real crisp stuff tonight. He went through periods where the curveball was there for him.
“It’s his 10th win. It’s pretty cool. He deserved it. It’s been a grinding 10 for him.”