“Orioles Classics” #TBT: Cal Ripken Jr. takes center stage

We should be celebrating the start of another baseball season today, packing Camden Yards for opening day the way only hard-core Orioles fans know how to do.

What’s that old adage about best-laid plans often going astray?

Baseball is in a holding pattern and we’re really not sure when the 2020 campaign is going to start. Luckily, we’ve got a treasure trove of “Orioles Classics” on MASN this week, and there’s a theme of sorts.

Cal Ripken Jr., the greatest shortstop of a generation (sorry, Yankees fans), is front and center this week in our historical gander back at O’s games of the recent past. You’ll see the games where he tied and broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak, the night his streak ended and the game where No. 8 got his 3,000th career hit. We’ll revisit the night the statue of Ripken was dedicated in 2012. For good measure, there’s even a couple of games of the 1983 American League Championship Series in which Ripken played.

And though we can’t deliver the usual pomp and circumstance of a Camden Yards opening day for real this afternoon, Saturday’s “Orioles Classic” rewinds the wayback machine to 2017, when Mark Trumbo played the hero before an appreciative orange-clad crowd.

Thursday, March 26 - 8:30 a.m. - As memorable nights go, there were few as magical as Sept. 5, 1995, the night Ripken played in his 2,131st consecutive game, eclipsing the streak logged by the Yankees’ legendary Iron Horse. The newly minted Iron Man even chipped in with a fourth-inning solo homer. But the real magic came after the Angels batted in the fifth inning, when the game became official and Ripken had cemented his place in history. The celebration that followed was the stuff of legend.

Thursday, March 26 - 2 p.m. - You can’t say that Trey Mancini didn’t make his swings count on June 7, 2017 in a 9-6 victory over the Pirates that took 11 innings. With two down in the bottom of the ninth, Mancini’s two-run blast knotted the score at 6-6. Then, in the 11th, Mancini went deep again, his three-run shot providing the difference in walk-off fashion.

Thursday, March 26 - 11:30 p.m. - Things were looking pretty bleak for the Birds on Aug. 14, 2016. But then the visitors started chipping away at a six-run Giants lead and getaway day in a weekend interleague series suddenly got interesting. Jonathan Schoop’s three-run homer off Santiago Casilla in the ninth inning put the Orioles up 8-7 and Zack Britton nailed the door shut with his 37th save.

Friday, March 27 - 9 a.m. - There’s something about Schoop coming through in interleague action that just can’t be denied. On July 10, 2015, he played the hero in a walk-off win over the Nationals, connecting off Tanner Roark with two outs in the ninth for a 3-2 Orioles victory.

Saturday, March 28 - 3:30 p.m. - On opening day of the 2017 campaign, defending AL home run champ Mark Trumbo picked up where he left off. With the score knotted at 2-2 in the 11th inning, Trumbo went deep to left field off Jason Grilli for a walk-off winner that sent a crowd of 45,667 into a delirious celebration.

Sunday, March 29 - 12:30 p.m. - Before the Orioles and Yankees tangled on Sept. 6, 2012, Ripken’s bronze likeness was unveiled among other statues of the club’s Hall of Famers. Then the Birds went out and beat the Yankees 10-6 to vault into a tie with the Bronx Bombers for first place in the AL East. The eighth inning proved the difference, with Adam Jones, Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis all hitting home runs in a four-run rally that propelled the O’s to victory.

Sunday, March 29 - 11:30 p.m. - Ripken collected the 3,000th hit of his storied career on April 15, 2000 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, lining a Hector Carrasco offering over second base in the seventh inning. Only 18,745 were in attendance, but the Twins later sold unused game tickets as a charitable fundraiser, giving fans across baseball the opportunity to own a keepsake of the milestone night.

Monday, March 30 - 9 a.m. - The Orioles blanked the White Sox 4-0 in Game 2 of the 1983 ALCS on Oct. 6, 1983 behind a gem by right-hander Mike Boddicker, who scattered five hits and fanned 14. Gary Roenicke had the game’s only homer, helping the home team knot the ALCS at a game apiece.

Monday, March 30 - 6 p.m. - Ripken’s consecutive games streak came to an end on Sept. 20, 1998, with Ryan Minor replacing the Iron Man at third base in a Sunday night game televised nationally. Shane Spencer’s RBI double in the ninth off Jimmy Key gave the Yankees the margin of victory in a 5-4 triumph, but the Orioles had the tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth before Mariano Rivera shut the door, getting Rafael Palmeiro to ground out to first to end it.

Tuesday, March 31 - 9 a.m. - The 1983 ALCS shifted to Chicago on Oct. 7, the Orioles taking command of the series with an 11-1 victory behind a combined six-hitter from Mike Flanagan and Sammy Stewart. Eddie Murray’s three-run homer in the first got the offense rolling and the Orioles piled up RBIs from seven different players.

Tuesday, March 31 - 6 p.m. - Before Ripken could play in his 2,131st game, he had to complete his 2,130th on Sept. 5, 1995. Scott Erickson tamed the Angels on three hits in an 8-0 shellacking that night, with Brady Anderson homering twice and Chris Hoiles, Jeff Manto, Ripken and Mark Smith also going deep.

Wednesday, April 1 - 9 a.m. - When the Orioles beat the Blue Jays 8-2 on Sept. 16, 2014, the game was a mere afterthought, lost admit a wild celebration marking the team’s first AL East title since 1983. But perhaps sensing the crowd was ready to erupt, the O’s added to a 4-2 lead with a three-run seventh featuring a two-run triple by Alejandro De Aza and a single tally in the eighth on a sac fly off the bat of Nick Hundley. When Tommy Hunter got Ryan Goins to ground out unassisted to first baseman Steve Pearce, the celebration began - and didn’t end until the wee hours.

Wednesday, April 1 - 1 p.m. - Good things came to those who waited patiently on Sept. 7. 2013, when the Birds edged the White Sox 3-2 in 10 innings. Matt Wieters played the hero, lining a two-run walk-off single to right.

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