As we count down to the end of another year, today I take a few moments to count down the best Orioles wins of the 2012 regular season.
The list is, of course, subjective. I’d love to read your thoughts and which game or games I left out that make your list.
On with the countdown ...
5. Orioles win 1-0 on the road against Tampa Bay, Oct. 2
On a night they needed to win to head to the regular season’s final day still with a chance to win the American League East, the Orioles beat the Rays 1-0 on a Chris Davis 440-foot, fourth-inning homer and another stellar pitching performance by the unflappable Miguel Gonzalez.
Gonzalez went 6 1/3 innings to outduel James Shields. Gonzalez improved to 9-4 and had an ERA of 2.10 over his last four starts of the regular season. In 10 starts from Aug. 1 to Oct. 2, he went 6-2 with an ERA of 2.49.
4. Orioles win 11-5 at New York, July 31
After falling behind 5-0 in the first, the Orioles erupted for seven runs in the top of the second to quickly regain the lead on their way to an 11-5 win over the Yankees.
In that big inning, all seven runs scored with two outs. After going 2-7 at Yankee Stadium in 2011, this win improved the Orioles to 4-1 there in 2012 with four wins in a row. They had outscored New York 26-10 on the Yankees’ home turf at that point.
3. Orioles win in 18 innings at Seattle, Sept. 18
The Orioles went to the top of the ninth trailing Seattle 2-0 on just two hits. But a clutch Davis two-run single sent this game to extra innings. And if you were not watching at 3:54 a.m. Eastern time, you missed the ending as the Orioles beat the Mariners 4-2 in 18 innings. With the win, the Orioles improved to 84-64 and moved into a first-place tie with the Yankees and within a half-game of Oakland for the top AL wild card spot.
2. Orioles beat the Yankees 10-6 at Camden Yards, Sept. 6
On the night the Orioles honored Cal Ripken Jr. with his legends statue in a pregame ceremony, they used a three-homer barrage in the last of the eighth to beat the Yankees 10-6 as a frenzied, sellout crowd of 46,298 looked on at Camden Yards. With the win, the Orioles tied the Yankees for first with identical 77-60 records.
The Orioles blew a 6-1 lead in the top of the eighth and the game was tied 6-6. But then Adam Jones hit a solo homer, Reynolds a two-run shot and Davis a solo for the win. The homer barrage was part of a six-homer game for the Orioles. The last time they hit six in one game was on Aug. 28, 2007.
With O’s fans scooping up tickets to honor Ripken, this might have been the closest to a 100 percent pro-O’s crowd at any recent Orioles-Yankees game. It made for a raucous environment and what I felt was the best home crowd of the year and maybe one of the best ever at Camden Yards.
1. Orioles win at Boston in 17 innings, May 6
This game was amazing and remarkable.
In a game that took 17 innings and more than six hours, the Orioles beat the Red Sox 9-6.
It ended with Davis getting the win on the mound after Jones hit a three-run homer off outfielder Darnell McDonald, who pitched the top of the 17th for the Red Sox.
It was won also because the Orioles made a sensational relay play - Jones to J.J. Hardy to Matt Wieters - to the plate to cut down a potential winning run by Boston in the last of the 16th.
Davis, who went 0-for-8 in the game with five strikeouts, pitched two scoreless innings and in the last of the 17th, struck out Adrian Gonzalez and then got losing pitcher McDonald to ground into a game-ending double play.
The win gave the Orioles their first three-game sweep at Fenway Park since June 10-12, 1994, a 19-9 record and a mark 10 games over .500 for the first time since June 25, 2005. It concluded a 5-1 road trip to New York and Boston, two places where the Orioles went a combined 5-13 in 2011.
It was a game where the Orioles blew a 5-0 lead, used up their whole bullpen and still won.
We didn’t know it then but the magic we saw that day would last throughout a magical season.