We're now almost a week into the resumption of baseball activities after an abrupt and unwelcome hiatus. And while baseball has undergone many changes over its long evolution, it has never seen such wholesale alteration of the way things are done.
Hand-sanitizing stations, daily temperature checks and frequent testing for COVID-19 have become the everyday reality for everyone involved in the sport. The players are doing their best to keep their distance from one another while at the same time promoting figurative closeness as teammates as they prepare for a season that almost never was.
While summer training, as it's been dubbed, has not been without problems, we still appear to be good for a July 24 opening day, with the Orioles set to take on the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The Sawx host the O's in the first "Orioles Classics" broadcast this week, and you'll also catch the Birds in action against all their other American League East rivals over the next seven days. And that's just for starters. We've got broken records, pitching gems and longballs galore on tap, with broadcasts happening morning, noon and night (depending on the day). So check out the synopses below. You're bound find a few places to mark on your calendar.
Thursday, July 9 - noon - Chris Davis eclipsed Brady Anderson's Orioles record for home runs on Sept. 17, 2013 in Boston, tagging Ryan Dempster's 2-1 pitch to lead off the sixth inning and knot the game at 2-2. In the ninth, Danny Valencia ambushed Koji Uehara's 0-2 offering for a triple, then scored on Matt Wieters' sacrifice fly. Jim Johnson shrugged off a one-out single in the bottom half to notch the save.
Friday, July 10 - 12:30 a.m. - Here's an almost-no-hitter for night owls. Acquired in an offseason trade for Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Hammel made a splash in his Orioles debut on April 8, 2012. Battling the Twins at Camden Yards, Hammel faced the minimum before giving up back-to-back doubles to start the eighth inning. Johnson pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn a save. Wilson Betemit hit a two-run double and J.J. Hardy homered in the 3-1 Orioles victory.
Friday, July 10 - 7 p.m. - The Nationals (whom the O's will face six times next month as part of the pandemic-shortened season) visited Camden Yards on July 10, 2015, sending southpaw Gio GonzÃ¡lez to the mound against Birds right-hander Chris Tillman. But it was O's closer Zack Britton who got the victory, holding the line on a 2-2 tie in the top of the ninth before Jonathan Schoop homered with two outs in the home half for a walk-off win.
Saturday, July 11 - 11 a.m. - Camden Yards, a notorious hitter's park, played against type on Sept. 1, 2017, hosting a game that went scoreless through 12 1/2 innings before the Orioles got the run they needed to win. Kevin Gausman and Blue Jays starter Joe Biagini went six and seven innings, respectively, before the bullpens took over and continued to stymie the opposing offenses. Aaron Loup worked the 12th inning for the Jays with little difficulty, but in the 13th surrendered a leadoff single to Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop's game-winning RBI double.
Saturday, July 11 - 7 p.m. - Baseball is a family-friendly game, and at no time was that more apparent than on this date 33 years ago. Bill Ripken, just called up from Triple-A Rochester, manned the middle infield with big brother Cal Ripken Jr. for the first time in the big leagues that day as O's skipper Cal Ripken Sr. watched from the dugout. The Ripken boys went a combined 0-for-7 in a 2-1 loss to the Twins, but as their dad must have told them during their formative years, you can't win 'em all.
Sunday, July 12 - 3:30 p.m. - The Orioles made their most recent playoff run in 2016, due in large measure to the bat of Mark Trumbo, whose 47 home runs that season topped the majors. On opening day 2017, the right-handed slugger got right back to work, hitting a walk-off longball off Jason Grilli in the 11th inning to beat the Blue Jays. Trumbo went 2-for-5 with two RBIs on the day.
Sunday, July 12 - 11:30 p.m. - Delmon Young started at designated hitter against lefty Chris Sale when the Orioles hosted the White Sox on June 23, 2014, but with Chicago righty Ronald Belisario looking to seal a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth with two runners aboard, Buck Showalter sent the left-handed-hitting Davis to the plate in Young's place. It was the right move. With the count full, Davis homered to right for an instant O's win.
Monday, July 13 - 1:30 p.m. - It was deja vu all over again for the Rays on Sept. 13, 2012. For the second game in a row, the Orioles logged a 3-2 walk-off win against their AL East rivals. This time, the sudden-death blow came in the 14th inning off the bat of Machado, who singled off Chris Archer to bring Adam Jones home with the game-winner. The Birds went through seven pitchers in the marathon, the Rays nine. The victory assured the O's of the end to a streak of 14 straight losing seasons.
Monday, July 13 - 7 p.m. - When you hear the term "no-hitter," what comes to mind is a starter sweating out nine innings in a solitary struggle for dominance. But sometimes you need a little help from your friends. On this date in 1991, Orioles starter Bob Milacki went six innings in Oakland, walking three but allowing no hits before passing the baton to Mike Flanagan. Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson each worked one inning, likewise without surrendering a base hit. Mike Devereaux and Chris Hoiles had the RBIs in the Orioles' 2-0 victory.
Tuesday, July 14 - 2 p.m. - For Orioles fans, the number 2,131 conjures images of an unfurling numeral on the wall of the warehouse at Camden Yards, and a joyful trot around the warning track by Baltimore's favorite son. Cal Ripken Jr. cemented his place in baseball history on Sept. 6, 1995, when he overtook Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played. The ensuing celebration that washed over Oriole Park and the city that night warmed hearts across America and gave baseball a much-needed shot in the arm.
Tuesday, July 14 - 7 p.m. - The second half of our "Orioles Classics" doubleheader brings you a game from exactly 17 years after the opener. With the home team marking the anniversary of Ripken's breaking the record held for so long by the Yankees' legendary first baseman, the O's and Yanks entertained fans with a tug of war. The Birds jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, but the Bronx Bombers scored five in the eighth to achieve a 6-6 tie. In the bottom half, however, Jones, Mark Reynolds and Davis all homered (with a single from Wieters thrown in) to score four more runs and give the Orioles a 10-6 win.
Wednesday, July 14 - 10:30 a.m. - The Orioles were the last men standing at the end of a 13-round slugfest at Detroit's Comerica Park on May 16, 2017. The Birds sent 11 batters to the plate while scoring seven to grab a six-run lead in the third, and it seemed the visitors were off to the races. But the Tigers clawed their way back with three runs in the third and four in the seventh. Trumbo homered in the ninth to tie the score and keep the O's alive, and in the 12th, they scored three more. But Detroit wasn't finished yet. Three Tigers RBI singles sent the game to the 13th. That's when Davis, with Trumbo on base, homered for a second time. Richard Bleier overcame a two-out single in the home half to seal the deal.
Wednesday, July 14 - 7 p.m. - Devereaux patrolled the outfield for seven seasons in Baltimore, but never more memorably than in the "Why Not?" year of 1989. On July 15, the Arizona State product delivered the final blow in a 9-7 win over the Angels at Memorial Stadium. Bryan Harvey blew a 9-7 lead and a save chance when pinch-hitter Larry Sheets laced a two-run single. Halos skipper Doug Rader then brought Bob McClure to the mound to face Devereaux, but it didn't help his cause. The right fielder's disputed homer gave the O's a walk-off win.