Friday, September 5, 2014
Vintage Fridays: Davey Johnson, 1970 Topps #45
It would be 14, but our old pal Koji Uehara seems to be running on fumes these days. I was scoreboard watching all night on Thursday from my perch in Section 340 of Camden Yards, and I looked on in horror as a 4-3 ninth-inning lead for the Red Sox turned into a 5-4 walkoff loss. I overheard the gory details from a similarly aggravated fan sitting behind me; his smartphone delivered the bad news of a game-tying home run by the declining Mark Teixeira followed by a game-winning blast by Padres castoff Chase Headley. It just served as a reminder that the Orioles will have to do it themselves.
Last night's win over Cincinnati provided more white-knuckle moments than I expected following the home team's two-out, six-run outburst in the first inning. The heavy lifting done by Nelson Cruz (career-high 37th home run and counting), our own Padres castoff Nick Hundley (Earl Weaver Special), and Jonathan Schoop (fourth-inning solo homer, his third in as many games) was cancelled out by a four-run Reds rally against Brad Brach and Tommy Hunter in the top of the seventh. I sat in the humidity and stewed as home plate umpire Sean Barber's strike zone seemed to shrink to the size of a postage stamp. I tried not to revert to past bad behaviors like vocally venting my frustrations at the Oriole players and personnel, but I may have said a few things in the heat of the moment. Still, I saved my true vitriol for Barber, who got his own subtle shout-out from Buck Showalter in the latter's postgame remarks. But all was forgotten just a half-inning later, as J. J. Hardy sliced a bases-loaded single to left field with two outs to put the Birds back on top, 9-7. Hunter pitched around a leadoff double in the eighth, and Britton shrugged off a two-strike, two-out single from the irritatingly good Devin Mesoraco (4-for-4, 2B, HR, 4 RBI) to notch his 33rd save and a sweep of Cincy. That's a 9-2 homestand for the Orioles and an 82-57 record. As Andy of High Heat Stats tweeted last night, the O's now officially have three straight full winning seasons for the first time since 1983-1985. They were also above .500 from 1992-1994, but the last of those three years was cut off at 112 games thanks to the players' strike. Now it's off to Tampa, and three more cracks at a Rays team that the Birds have handled pretty well this season.
It was nice visiting with you, Davey, but I hope the Orioles can zero in on Steve Barber tonight.