Birds Have Banner Week
The store fronts rolled past -- Epstein's, Bolewicki's and Matthew's pizzeria where my mother dined as a little girl. The Orioles jacked two home runs within minutes of each other in the bottom of the eighth to break the tie, one from Adam Jones before the radio broadcasters could return from the station break and another two-run shot from Chris Davis to take a 5-2 lead.
When Buck Showalter managed the Yankees in the early nineties, they became known for taking a lead in the eighth and shutting opponents down in the ninth. They did it numerous times and the Orioles experienced it as well. This is how you win games in the big leagues. Stay close, and then shut it down.
I started the week in the stands watching Tommy Hunter beat the Jays on Tuesday night with some publisher friends in town for a meeting. It was cold and the pace was brisk. Batting left-handed, Matt Wieters clubbed an opposite field fly toward the left field foul pole. The ball deflected off the left fielder's glove into the stands for the difference in the game. We had just been talking about whether this was going to be his year.
My colleague Donna grew up in Baltimore and had attended every Oriole home game at the old Memorial Stadium. Her dad dove her to the games from Randallstown. She now lives in Nebraska and runs a publishing house that just published a book on the 1970 Orioles.
The A's won one on Friday night, 5-2 but the Orioles crushed them on Saturday night with a mighty barrage of singles, 10-1. The Orioles had just unveiled a new sculpture of Frank Robinson and he was on hand. "Baltimore will always have a special place in my heart," he said to the TV announcers.
On Sunday, I took the kids to Meadowood park where Quinn could ride his bike and Julia could try out her new skates. It was an amazing day. Area youth lacrosse players contended on four different fields. I had my transistor radio, just like the old days. Bartolo Colon held the Orioles scoreless through 8 innings with a mean, tailing fastball. Hardy started the ninth with the O's down 2-0 and sent a grounder toward center field. He beat the throw and Jones did as well with Colon throwing wildly to first. With one down, and runners on second and third, Wieters sent one over the left fielder's head, tying the score. After a walk to Chris Davis, Wilson Betemit sent a long fly ball into right center. "It's way back, way way back, way way way back and it's outta here!"
For me, this week tracks back to the last game of the season last year against the Red Sox. With two outs and two strikes on Nolan Reimold and the Red Sox in front, the Orioles have become a different team since that moment.