If you’re a longtime viewer of “Orioles Classics” on MASN, you know that we run quite the baseball smorgasbord here. You never know quite what you’re going to get in terms of games.
This week’s buffet is heavy on the Iron Man, featuring the collective hits of Cal Ripken Jr. You’ll see his 2,130th game, which tied him with Yankees legend Lou Gehrig for the longest active streak in major league history. You’ll see Ripken’s 3,000th career hit. And you’ll see the game where Ripken made news by sitting down and ending The Streak.
As a bonus, you’ll see the 500th career home run by Ripken’s friend and longtime teammate, Eddie Murray. Ironically enough, that momentous feat came a year to the day after Ripken surpassed Gehrig.
You’ll also get to watch some other sluggers at work this week - including a hitter pressed into service on the mound.
Thursday, July 2 - noon - No one much cared that the Tigers prevailed 5-4 over the Orioles on Sept. 6, 1996, the one-year anniversary of Ripken’s 2,131st consecutive game. That night, after a long rain delay pushed the game to the wee hours, Murray stepped to the plate and took Felipe Lira deep to right-center field for his 500th career home run, setting off a wild celebration.
Thursday, July 2 - 7 p.m. - A slugger of a more recent vintage went on a rampage against the Rays on Sept. 7, 2014. Nelson Cruz homered twice and drove in seven runs, but the Birds needed 11 innings to sink the Rays 7-5. Cruz’s two-run blast off César Ramos in the top of the 11th at Tropicana Field was the difference.
Friday, July 3 - 11:30 a.m. - All good things must come to an end, and The Streak reached its conclusion on Sept. 20, 1998 against the Yankees. On a Sunday night series finale televised on ESPN, it was Ryan Minor - not Ripken - who trotted to third base in the top of the first, ending the Iron Man’s streak of consecutive games at 2,632. The Bronx Bombers won 5-4 despite a two-run homer by B.J. Surhoff.
Saturday, July 4 - 10:30 a.m. - Well, there’s no live baseball this Independence Day, but we’ve got a July 4 doubleheader for you, starting with the night the Orioles returned to Memorial Stadium after a 1-23 start. That night, May 2, 1988, was dubbed “Fantastic Fans Night” and saw the Orioles top the Rangers 9-4 behind Ripken’s fourth-inning solo homer and a masterful job by Jay Tibbs of working out of trouble. That was also the night the club announced plans for Camden Yards to be built, bringing a sold-out crowd of 50,402 to its feet in appreciation.
Saturday, July 4 - 10:30 p.m. - Our July 4 nightcap features some walk-off fireworks from Matt Wieters. On Sept. 7. 2013, the White Sox took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 10th on Conor Gillaspie’s solo blast off Tommy Hunter. But Wieters saved his best for last, lacing a two-out, two-run single to right to walk off the Pale Hose.
Sunday, July 5 - 4 p.m. - Where were you on April 15, 2000? Like most of Baltimore, you were glued to your TV as the Orioles traveled to Minnesota to play the Twins. Moments after Héctor Carrasco’s wild pitch plated Albert Belle in the seventh, Ripken lined a single to center off the right-hander for his 3,000th career hit. The Metrodome rocked a celebration for a visiting player and the O’s won 6-4 behind home runs by Charles Johnson and Surhoff.
Monday, July 6 - noon - Ripken matched Gehrig’s 2,130 consecutive games played on Sept. 5, 1995 in front of a packed Camden Yards against the Angels in an 8-0 Orioles romp. The future Hall of Famer went 3-for-5 with a homer and Brady Anderson drove in a pair of runs.
Tuesday, July 7 - noon - On Sept. 23, 2016, the Orioles tied the game in the ninth on Wieters’ solo blast and beat the Diamondbacks in the 12th when Mark Trumbo deposited a Matt Koch pitch into the left field stands for a 3-2 walk-off victory.
Wednesday, July 8 - 7 p.m. - This Mother’s Day marathon from May 6, 2012 took 6 hours, 7 minutes and 16 innings to complete, but the Orioles came away 9-6 winners. Adam Jones’ three-run blast in the 16th was the difference, but Chris Davis moved from designated hitter to the pitcher’s mound in the 15th, working the final two innings and getting the victory.