Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Chris Davis, 2015 Topps Orioles Team Set #BO-12

I won't be around these parts for the rest of the week, so I leave you with tonight's hero, Chris Davis. My sister and I endured the stifling heat and humidity to attend tonight's pregame Social Media gathering at the Upper Deck Rooftop Bar in Camden Yards. We dined on Esskay franks, picked up our #BirdlandSocial tees, and listened to the Q and A with Roch Kubatko and Jim Palmer. Afterward we took our seats in Section 352, down the third-base line and fairly near home plate, giving us an excellent vantage point for Chris Davis' go-ahead three-run homer in the first inning and his two-run shot past the reach of Nick Markakis in the second. It was the tenth multi-home run game of Crush's career, and if memory serves me correct, it's the third such game that I've seen live. He also made a fantastic running grab of an A. J. Pierzynski fly ball to deep right field in the eighth inning, when the Braves were making a late bid to get back in the game. That's four in a row for the Birds. It's good to have a productive Chris Davis in the lineup again.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, 2011 Topps Orioles Team Set #BAL17

Tonight, the Orioles finally returned home for the first time since the All-Star Break, following a 4-5 road trip that featured a pair of series wins bookending a demoralizing sweep at the hands of the dag-blasted Yankees. The Baltimore fans were treated to a pitchers' duel, with Kevin Gausman blanking the Braves on six hits over a career-best 7.2 innings and Alex Wood matching him frame-by-frame. Zach Britton, pitching the ninth in a non-save situation, gave up a rare solo home run to somebody named Adonis Garcia, setting the stage for Atlanta's new closer (and Charm City's old one) Jim Johnson...who promptly blew the save. Adam Jones legged out an infield hit, Matt Wieters lined a hanging 0-2 curveball for a more conventional single, and J. J. Hardy tied the game with a sac fly to left. Wieters, who's looked rusty more often than not since returning from Tommy John surgery, then blasted a Luis Avilan offering into the right-center field bleachers for a walkoff home run with no outs in the bottom of the 11th. The O's have clawed back to .500 at 49-49, and they spoiled Nick Markakis' homecoming. The longtime Oriole right fielder collected a pair of hits in five at-bats, but did fly out to left field with the potential go-ahead run on second base in the 10th. Oh, and Ryan Lavarnway started at catcher for the Braves, and picked up right where he left off in his forgettable stint in Birdland earlier this season: 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a stolen base allowed to David Lough. It's a veritable family reunion at Camden Yards this week.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Jeff Robinson, 1991 Leaf #464

Here we see Jeff Robinson throwing his famous "razz-ball", which was just an ordinary fastball. However, as he delivered the pitch, Robinson would stick out his tongue and blow a raspberry at the unsuspecting batter. It was...less than effective.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Billy Cox, 1955 Bowman #56

If the name Billy Cox rings a bell to you, it's probably due to his tenure with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Cox was an infielder for the Bums from 1948 through 1954, and he gained a reputation as an acrobatic and dependable third baseman in particular. Though he wasn't known for his offense - he batted .262/.318/.380 (85 OPS+) with a total of 66 home runs in 1,058 career games - he held his own with the bat in World Series play. Billy played for three pennant-winning clubs in Brooklyn, and although all three of those teams were defeated by the damned Yankees in the Fall Classic, he hit .302/.351/.453 in 15 total Series games. Unfortunately, the Dodger fan-favorite wasn't around in 1955 when Brooklyn finally toppled the Bronx Bombers, as he'd been traded to Baltimore the previous December along with pitcher Preacher Roe. The Orioles didn't give up much in the deal, sending a pair of minor leaguers and $50,000 to the Dodgers; of course, they didn't get much out of the trade either. The 39-year-old Roe, a former four-time All-Star, retired without throwing a pitch for the O's. Cox, age 35, batted just .211/.275/.314 in 53 games as an Oriole, homering three times and driving in 14 runs. In mid-June, the Birds agreed to a four-player swap with the Indians, Cox and Gene Woodling for Dave Pope and Wally Westlake. Billy chose to retire rather than switch teams again, so Baltimore sent $15,000 cash to Cleveland to complete the trade. Billy Cox returned home to Newport, PA, near Harrisburg, and tended bar. He died of cancer at age 58 in 1978.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jim Palmer, 1981 Kellogg's #2

I really should be wringing my hands and venting spleen over the ongoing horrors of the Orioles' July meltdown, but I'm busy helping my wife Janet celebrate her birthday in style. So just stare at this 3-D-ish 35-year-old rendering of Jim Palmer...why? Janet's initials before we got married were J. P. That's good enough for me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Leo Gomez, 1992 Pinnacle Team 2000 #52

Leo Gomez was part of an 80-card insert set in 1992 Pinnacle that touted young players who were expected to be stars in (you guessed it) the year 2000. He did post an .880 OPS with 27 homers in Y2K, but he did it in Japan. Besides, he's not even the biggest miss in the O's team set. Luis Mercedes, anyone? That guy played his last major league game in 1993 (.190/.286/.242 in 70 career games), and was out of baseball altogether by 1997. At least they got it right with Mike Mussina.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Jake Arrieta, 2007 Tristar Prospects Plus #96

I don't think I've mentioned it here, but it's super-annoying that Jake Arrieta figured out how to pitch after the Orioles traded him to the Cubs in 2013. In 53 starts with Chicago, the righty is 25-12 with a 2.70 ERA (139 ERA+) and a 3.62-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In 69 games (63 starts) in parts of four seasons in Baltimore, Jake was 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA (77 ERA+) and a 1.74 strikeout-to-walk ratio. What a butthead.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Nick Markakis, 2009 Upper Deck Goudey #18

Sound the air raid sirens! Mere days after I mused upon Nick Markakis' home run drought, he finally touched 'em all tonight against Dodgers pitcher Brandon Beachy. His first-inning, two-run shot went out to straightaway center field in Atlanta, clearing the fence at the 400-foot mark. It was Nick's 394th plate appearance for the Braves. His first homer as an Oriole came a bit quicker, as he went deep off of Tampa Bay reliever Dan Miceli in his sixth and final plate appearance in his first start for the club. But who's counting?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Jonathan Schoop, 2014 Topps Heritage #49

We're three weeks into July, and the Orioles just got their first series win of the month with a 9-3 win over the Tigers in today's rubber match. Jonathan Schoop's three-run homer off of Justin Verlander highlighted a six-run fourth inning, as the O's chased the former Cy Young and MVP after just 3.2 innings of work. There were still plenty of tense moments; the Tigers and Orioles each had 14 hits, but Baltimore reversed their recent fortune by going 6-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Detroit went 3-for-12 and stranded 13 runners, compared to five left on base for the Birds. If the O's are going to make a move in the second half, Schoop could be a big part of it. He missed two and a half months with a knee injury, but has hit six home runs in only 18 games (62 plate appearances). He also made a number of dazzling defense plays in this weekend's series, further bolstering the team's already strong collection of gloves. Now the Orioles head to Yankee Stadium with a razor-thin hold on second place in the American League East, hoping to cut into New York's four-game division lead. Buckle up.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Chris Tillman, 2015 Topps Orioles Team Set #BO-14

Earlier this week I looked at the pitching matchups for this weekend's series in Detroit, and saw that tonight's game would be Chris Tillman vs. David Price. Naturally, I groaned, because I can't see the future. Tonight Tillman was masterful; he allowed a single and a walk in the first inning and then retired the last 23 batters he faced, making Manny Machado's third-inning solo homer off of Price stand up. The O's tall righthander left after eight one-hit innings, but a two-run single by Caleb Joseph in the top of the ninth made Zach Britton's job a bit easier. The All-Star closer retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning for his 24th save in 25 tries. So tomorrow Miguel Gonzalez takes the mound as the Birds have a chance to win the series. You can't ask for much more.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Chuck Diering, 1956 Topps #19

Yikes. Apparently nobody told the Orioles that the All-Star Break ended tonight. Let's distract ourselves with this lovely card featuring Chuck Diering, the Most Valuable Oriole from the team's inaugural 1954 season. As is usually the case with 1956 Topps, the highlight of the card is the background scene. In this case, Chuck looks like he's belly-flopping into second base, giving us a great opportunity to see most of the #32 on the back of his jersey. As for his black-and-orange striped socks...I would very much like a pair of those.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Nick Markakis, 2008 Topps Orioles Team Set #BAL1

Nick Markakis is having a decent enough season in his new digs in Atlanta. As was usually the case in Baltimore, he's played in all but one of the Braves' 89 games in 2015, batting .293 with a .381 on-base percentage and 20 doubles. But while he's on pace for the most two-baggers he's hit in a season since 2010, and he's reaching base at a higher rate than he has since 2008 (.406 OBP), his already-diminishing home run power has completely evaporated. Nick has yet to go deep this year, leaving him with a career-worst slugging percentage of .353. His last round-tripper came on September 25, 2014, when he led off the game by driving a Hiroki Kuroda pitch over the right field fence in Yankee Stadium. So his home run drought has reached 90 games and 392 plate appearances. The Oriole player with the most playing time without a single homer this year was Everth Cabrera, who was 0-for-105 in 29 games before going to the big free agent list in the sky. So I'll continue tracking Nick Markakis from afar with a morbid curiosity, to see how long it takes him to go yard.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Melvin Mora, 2005 Topps Opening Day #48

Melvin Mora is putting on his best expression of intense concentration, bat perched over his head, knees bent...but the real star of this card is the little girl in the first row with the backwards red cap who is staring disinterestedly at her orange foam finger.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

George Sherrill, 2009 Topps Heritage #395

During the Orioles' Dark Ages, even All-Star week wasn't very fun. You usually didn't have a hometown guy to root for in the Home Run Derby; in 2007, when Nick Markakis led the team with a season total of 23 homers, he had a team-high nine at the All-Star Break. That doesn't get you an invite to the derby. The following year, weary O's fans had to wait until the 12th inning to see obligatory Baltimore representative George Sherrill (4.08 ERA, 1.42 ERA at the break) appear in the Midsummer Classic. It's still something of a surprise to see multiple Orioles as All-Stars, even though I know they're deserving. Adam Jones went hitless in two at-bats tonight, but Manny Machado turned heads with a warning-track fly ball against Clayton Kershaw in his first at-bat before driving in one insurance run in the seventh inning with a double against Francisco Rodriguez and subsequently scoring on a Prince Fielder sac fly. Manny also made a couple of sparkling defensive stops, naturally. Zach Britton pitched two-thirds of a scoreless inning in the sixth, striking out Bryce Harper in the process. No sign of Darren O'Day, but the American League is sitting on a 6-2 lead in the ninth inning. It looks like the O's will have home field advantage in the World Series.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Miguel Tejada, 2005 Topps Updates and Highlights #UH179

Manny Machado made quite a good showing for himself tonight in the Home Run Derby, blasting a dozen home runs in the first round. Unfortunately, he drew a bad seed, as Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson beat him out by smashing 13. So even though Manny had the fourth-most homers in the round of eight, he was one-and-done. But he did hit a handful of home runs over 450 feet, so he can hold his head high. But for the time being, Miguel Tejada is still the reigning Home Run Derby champion for the Orioles franchise, having taken the crown in Houston in 2004. There's always next year.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cal Ripken Jr., 1991 Jimmy Dean #15

Here we are at the All-Star Break, and the Orioles are limping in at 44-44, losers of their last four series and 10 of their last 13 games. Yet they're not in a bad position overall. The Yankees and their dark magic sit in first place, four games ahead of the third-place Birds. Tampa Bay has a slim half-game edge on Baltimore, and Toronto is another half-game back. Boston still lurks, improbably, two and a half games behind the O's in last place. It has not been a pretty first half for anyone in the American League East, and the Orioles in particular have been up and down and all over the place. There have been injuries, slumps, and a complete regression from Chris Tillman and Bud Norris. Alejandro de Aza and Delmon Young have been shown the door, and others could follow. Every season is a six-month grind, but in 2015 we've really been able to see how our baseball sausage is made.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Randy Milligan, 1990 Bowman #257

It's Saturday night, which means that the Orioles are wearing their orange jerseys, and so I have an opportunity to remind you that the orange jerseys are magnificent. The Birds are clinging to a 4-3 lead over Walgreens the Nationals in the sixth inning as I type, so let's hope they can keep on going.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Doug DeCinces, 1980 Topps #615

With the Orioles opening a crucial three-game home series vs. the Nationals tonight on the heels of a brutal 1-5 Midwestern road trip, I dug deep and pulled out my Wild Bill Hagy #34 tee before heading to Camden Yards. The Birds went out and won their first game in 37 tries when trailing after seven innings. Matt Wieters crushed a game-tying double to the right-center field gap in the eighth, setting the stage for the dramatic bottom of the ninth. With two outs, Jonathan Schoop reached out for a Tanner Roark pitch and drove it over the left field fence for his first career walk-off home run, playing the role of Doug DeCinces. We were even treated to the strains of "Orioles Magic" playing over the stadium PA as the team celebrated at home plate. I guess I was wearing the right shirt.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ben McDonald, 1994 Fleer Ultra #3

22 years ago today, Ben McDonald scattered seven hits and four walks in six innings, allowing three runs in a 15-6 O's beatdown of the White Sox. Why is that noteworthy? As I discussed in great detail in an early post on this blog, it was the first game I ever saw in person at Oriole Park at Camden Yards...the first of many, to be sure. Just short of 11 years old, I had only recently caught baseball fever, and I couldn't have asked for anything else in that game. Brady Anderson threw out Bo Jackson at home plate to end Chicago's three-run first inning, and the Birds erased a 3-1 deficit with a monster 12-batter, seven-run rally in the bottom of the sixth. Chris Hoiles reached base in all five of his trips to the plate and provided the go-ahead hit with a three-run homer, which probably helps explain why he's still one of my all-time favorites. (Of course, David Segui added a two-run blast the following inning, and I was never that crazy about him. Go figure.) For variety's sake, Mark McLemore even chipped in with a bases-loaded walk. I'd love to track down a video of that game for nostalgia's sake.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Alan Mills, 1993 Score #440

Just before we left for Ocean City at the end of June, my wife gave me some beach reading: Dan Connolly's new book, 100 Things Orioles Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. I would recommend it to any O's fan as a quick and entertaining overview of team history. I learned a few new things as well. My favorite tidbit was the revelation that a college-aged Alan Mills had a Darryl Strawberry poster hanging in his dorm room. Of course, a decade later, Millsy posterized Straw in the most infamous melee in Baltimore baseball lore.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ubaldo Jimenez, 2015 Topps Orioles Team Set #BO-4

Are you sick of this year's Topps Orioles team set yet? My general boycott of new Topps products admittedly hampers variety when I want to feature current players. Anyhow, I'm a week late with this, but I just have to comment on the Birds' doubleheader sweep of the Indians two Sundays ago. As you may recall, the O's took the regularly scheduled afternoon game by a 4-0 score, with the rejuvenated Ubaldo Jimenez tossing a bullpen-preserving eight innings of four-hit, NO-walk, seven-strikeout ball. Brian Matusz and Chaz Roe made things interesting with a pair of walks in the ninth, but combined to get those ever-challenging final three outs. In the nightcap, a makeup of Saturday's rainout, Chris Tillman nearly matched Ubaldo's pitching line with seven innings, four hits, zero walks, and six whiffs. T. J. McFarland somehow kept Cleveland off the board for the last two innings despite allowing four hits of his own, and the Orioles cruised to an 8-0 victory. So not only did the O's win both ends of the twinbill, but they did so without giving up a single run. The last time the club blanked the opposition in both games of a doubleheader was September 6, 1974, when Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar each flummoxed...the Indians. And of course, I had just written about those two games (and the larger shutout streak surrounding them) two days before this latest turn of events. It's all very serendipitous.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Darren O'Day, 2015 Topps Orioles Team Set #BO-6

I'm back from vacation, though I realize that I didn't mention I was leaving for a week. I'm back now, and I can't think of a better way to mark the occasion than by posting a card of 2015 All-Star Darren O'Day. Yep, three and a half years after the Orioles picked up the sidearming reliever on waivers from the Rangers, he's going to his first Midsummer Classic. O'Day (5-0, 1.14 ERA, 2 saves, 0.82 WHIP) and Zach Britton were both chosen for the American League squad by Royals manager Ned Yost. Meanwhile, Adam Jones and Manny Machado were voted in as reserves by their peers, giving the O's four representatives for next week's festivities in Cincinnati. It's been an uneven first half for the Birds, but a few of their standouts players are getting their just due.