We’re all (Adam) Jonesing for Orioles baseball right now, but you’re not missing it on this particular day because April 16 was scheduled as an off-day to begin with.
How’s that for rationalizing?
If not for this pesky pandemic, the Birds would have just hosted the Cubs for a pair, the Wednesday game coming on Jackie Robinson Day. That’s the one day during the season when you can’t tell the players even with a program, since everybody’s wearing No. 42 in honor of the great Dodgers infielder and barrier-buster.
The O’s today would have been getting ready for a weekend series with the Royals in Kansas City. Which reminds me that in addition to live baseball, it’s also been far too long since I’ve enjoyed some good barbecue.
At any rate, in addition to a select sample of 21st century games, the coming week’s worth of “Orioles Classics” includes the very first game at Camden Yards and a heapin’ helping of the 1997 American League Division Series against the Seattle Mariners, which the O’s won, three games to one, to move on to the AL Championship Series. So grab yourself a frappe latte mocha mint whatever and catch the action, which MASN will bring you even if it’s raining.
Thursday, April 16 - 7 p.m. - The Big Unit was the big loser in Game 1 of the 1997 ALDS in Seattle. The Orioles got to indimidating left-hander Randy Johnson for five runs, including four in Johnson’s fifth and final inning. The O’s treated the Mariners bullpen just as roughly in the sixth, picking up another four runs on the way to a 9-3 victory. Eric Davis and B.J. Surhoff - who pinch-hit for Davis in the sixth - each had a pair of RBIs. Mike Mussina went seven innings for the win.
Friday, April 17 - 9 a.m. - Chris Davis set a club record on Sept. 17, 2013 when he hit his 51st home run of the season, but the O’s would need a sacrifice fly from Matt Wieters in the ninth to beat the Red Sox 3-2 at Fenway Park. Right-hander Scott Feldman got the start for the Orioles, but Tommy Hunter got credit for the win in relief. Closer Jim Johnson picked up his 46th save of the year.
Friday, April 17 - 7 p.m. - It was deja vu all over again as the Birds won Game 2 of the 1997 ALDS in Seattle by the same 9-3 score they did in Game 1. Junkballing lefty and former Oriole Jamie Moyer gave up just three runs but only made it through 4 2/3 innings of his start for the Mariners. Reliever Bobby Ayala got the worst of it from the O’s offense, allowing Brady Anderson’s two-run homer in the seventh and four more runs in the eighth. Sinkerball master Scott Erickson worked 6 2/3 and got the victory.
Saturday, April 18 - 8 p.m. - The Orioles went 2-for-Seattle, but hit a speed bump at home in Game 3 of the 1997 ALDS. O’s lefty Jimmy Key wasn’t bad, allowing a single run in the third and one in the fifth before giving way to Alan Mills. But Mariners southpaw Jeff Fassero worked his way out of a couple of jams on his way to eight innings of shutout ball. Jeffrey Hammonds’ two-run double got the Birds on the board in the ninth, but it was too little, too late. The Mariners’ 4-2 win kept them alive in the series ... for now.
Sunday, April 19 - 8 p.m. - Nearly 49,000 packed Camden Yards to catch Johnson vs. Mussina, part 2 in Game 4 of the 1997 ALDS, and it lived up to the hype. No. 2 batter Jeff Reboulet homered off The Big Unit and Cal Ripken Jr. singled to drive in a second run in the Orioles first. Edgar Martinez homered to lead off the top of the second, but that would be the end of the Mariners’ scoring. Geronimo Berroa’s longball in the fifth gave the Orioles an insurance run, and back end bullpen guys Armando Benítez and Randy Myers breezed through the eighth and ninth, respectively. The 3-1 win gave the O’s the chance to face the Indians for the AL title.
Monday, April 20 - 9 a.m. - Jonathan Schoop’s RBI double and J.J. Hardy’s RBI single - both hits coming with two out in the ninth - sent the Orioles and Nationals to extra innings in Baltimore on May 9, 2017. An Orioles rally fizzled in the 10th, and Bryce Harper threw out Hardy at the plate to end a threat in the 11th. But singles from Jones, Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo in the 12th gave the O’s a 5-4 victory over their just-down-the-road rivals.
Tuesday, April 21 - 4 p.m. - On April 25, 2015 - almost exactly five years ago - a 10th-inning turnaround helped the Orioles walk off the Red Sox. After Xander Bogaerts’ leadoff homer in the top half, the O’s needed a run to stay alive. They got one on Chris Davis’ sac fly off former Oriole Koji Uehara. The next batter, David Lough - who had been brought in to pinch-run in the eighth - then homered for the 5-4 walk-off victory.
Tuesday, April 21 - 11 p.m. - Whether that year’s team is great, good or not so good, the Orioles always seem to come through on opening day. Take April 3, 2017, for example. Davis and Trumbo each had an RBI in the third, but a bases-loaded walk in the fifth and Ezequiel Carrera’s RBI double in the sixth pulled the Blue Jays even with the Orioles at two runs apiece, and no one else had scored by the end of regulation. After Machado popped out and Davis struck out in the 11th, it looked as though opening day might extend into the night. Trumbo fixed that, taking Jason Grilli over the wall for a walk-off O’s triumph.
Wednesday, April 22 - 9 a.m. - About six weeks later, the Orioles and Tigers flexed their muscles. On May 16, 2017 the Birds were visiting Comerica Park and erupted for seven runs in the third to chase Detroit starter Matthew Boyd. Hardy batted twice in the inning, homering to lead it off and later driving in Welington Castillo on a liner that reliever Chad Bell couldn’t handle. But Orioles starter Wade Miley gave up a couple of homers in the bottom half, and in the seventh, J.D. Martinez hit a grand slam off Brad Brach to put the Tigers on top. Trumbo’s solo shot in the ninth tied the score at 8-8 and the slugfest continued into extras. Davis homered to lead off the 12th and the O’s scored two more to give themselves what looked like a comfortable lead. But Donnie Hart ran into trouble in the bottom half, and the Tigers scored three to keep the game going. In the 13th, Trumbo doubled and Davis hit his second dinger of the day to put the Birds ahead by two. This time the lead held up, and Richard Bleier got the win in relief.
Wednesday, April 22 - 5 p.m. - Thinking back on April 6, 1992 is a lot like remembering your first kiss. That was the day that the first - and still the best - of the retro ballparks made its maiden voyage. Veteran righty Rick Sutcliffe opened Oriole Park at Camden Yards in style, pitching a complete-game shutout against the Indians. The only RBIs that day came from the bottom of the O’s order, with Chris Hoiles doubling and Bill Ripken driving one in with a squeeze bunt as the Birds christened their new home with a 2-0 triumph.
Wednesday, April 22 - 11 p.m. - Trumbo struck the decisive blow on Sept. 23, 2016, but the Orioles never would’ve gotten there without Pedro Álvarez’s solo homer in the eighth and Wieters’ in the ninth. Hosting the Diamondbacks, the Orioles fell behind early as Yovani Gallardo gave up a run in the first and another in the second. Trumbo was the only batter the O’s would need in the 12th inning, as he homered to left for a 3-2 walk-off.