photo c/o our peeps over at IhateJJRedick
It was a magical Thursday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
In a game that was the biggest September contest in the stadium since 1997 (until Friday’s game, of course - they only get bigger at this point), the Orioles jumped out to an early lead, withstood a furious late Yankee comeback, and took the first game of the crucial four-game set.
Prior to the game, the Orioles held their fifth of six bronze sculpture unveiling ceremonies this season. Previously, Frank Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, and Eddie Murray were honored. On this night, which was the 17th anniversary of his record-breaking 2,131st consecutive game, Cal Ripken, Jr. was in the house to take his place among the immortalized Oriole greats.
Between the pre-game ceremony for Cal, and the video montage that went along with it, Cal speaking and throwing out the first pitch, a very classy moment of silence held by the Birds for the late Art Modell, and the 46,298 (90+% O’s fans) giving the “O” during the Spar Spangled Banner all we had, the emotion at the Yard was absolutely off the charts before the first pitch was even thrown.
They even played “Seven Nation Army,” showing some solidarity with the purple birds that live across the street. The crowd responded favorably, to say the least.
I remarked to my dad that I was getting the feeling I get watching the Ravens come out of the tunnel at M&T Bank Stadium. I can honestly say I’ve NEVER had that feeling at an Oriole game before Thursday night. I’ve been to playoff games at OPACY before, but I was 14-15 years old, and too young to fully appreciate the atmosphere and situation. I don’t want to overstate it – because yes, it is “just a game,” – but you true sports fans know exactly what I’m talking about.
It was also the most fun I’ve ever had at an O’s game, and I’m 30 years old.
I’ve had fun at O’s games before, yes. But never when the O’s are fighting for first place with the Evil Empire in September. I would compare it to this – I had a blast in college at UMBC. Even though it’s definitely not a school that’s known for its parties, I had great friends and we knew how to entertain ourselves. But that first time I went to visit friends at the University of Maryland College Park, it was like “oh. OHHHHHHHHH. THAT’S what all the fuss is about!”
That’s what it feels like going to these truly meaningful O’s games for the first time since Bill Clinton was in office. Completely incredible.
Anyway, back to the game.
The O’s bashed SIX home runs (their most since 8/28/07 against Tampa), including two more from Mark Reynolds, who is hitting in a league of his own right now (Adrian Beltre is close, I suppose). Reynolds now has three two-home run games against the Yankees in the last week, after doing it twice in the Bronx on Friday and Sunday.
Honestly, I’m surprised Mark hasn’t felt any chin music from the Yankees pitchers yet. You can believe it’s coming.
Also homering were Matt Wieters, who got things started with a 3-run shot in the first that just squeaked over the left field wall and inside the foul pole, Robert Andino, and Chris Davis.
None of the home runs were more clutch than the one Adam Jones hit in the bottom of the eighth though. After the Yankees had stormed back to tie the game at six with five runs in the top of the inning, it felt like all the air had been let out of the stadium.
I said to my dad, “you know he’s going to be swinging for the fences here.”
I didn’t mean it as a good thing.
I should have.
Jones took the 1-2 offering from David Robertson DEEP into the left field seats to put the Birds back on top. Before all was said and done, the O’s would score four runs before the Yankees bullpen was able to record even a single out in the bottom of the eighth.
Here’s MLB.com video of the home run. Click it. Watch it. Do it again.
Isn’t it glorious?
I’m still pumped as I sit here at 1 AM typing this, and I’m going to go right back up to Eutaw Street and do it all over again tomorrow. I’m realistic enough to know that it won’t be 90% O’s fans again, and that we probably won’t hit six home runs again, and that the atmosphere I was immersed in tonight may not be duplicated, but I still can’t wait.
The incredible season rolls along. The Birds can take over first place by themselves with another victory Friday night.
See you at the Yard.
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