Even through more than a decade of losing baseball, student tickets and post-game fireworks can still lure out a little bit of a crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The announced attendance at the ballpark tonight was 25,836 — still just 53 percent of Oriole Park’s capacity — but those that did make it out were treated to an offensive explosion as the O’s tied club records in extra base hits and doubles. The post game fireworks were simply icing on the cake.
(A quick digression: the majority of the friends who attended the game with me Friday night agreed that the sound of fireworks and the crowd’s collective oohs and aahs are plenty enough audio stimulation. In other words, no need to blare music as the fireworks ascend above the stadium. At the very least, reconsider the musical selection. I mean, seriously, “Girls” by the Beastie Boys? Why is that even on the Fireworks Night playlist? Whose idea was that?)
Leading the way offensively was fourth outfielder and oft-maligned Felix Pie, who became the fourth Oriole in history to hit for the cycle.
Pie doubled in the first inning, homered in the third and had an infield single to lead off the seventh. Later in the inning, Pie lined a ball into the right-center field gap and slid into third — though he easily could have reached the bag standing up.
Pie’s four hits were a career high, and offered a glimpse of what he is capable of from a skills perspective.
Pie started the season as the club’s everyday left fielder before losing his job to rookie Nolan Reimold, who has cemented his place in the O’s future and remains a legitimate American League Rookie of the Year candidate.
Pie’s playing time has suffered, of course, as he went from receiving 51 at bats in April and 36 at bats in May to earning only 15 and 19 at bats in June and July, respectively.
Pie had been earning more significant playing time after combining to hit .353 in those 34 June and July at bats (an average aided much by a .467 June average), but had struggled to a .188 average in 16 August at bats before Friday night’s explosion.
By joining Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr., and Aubrey Huff as the only Orioles to hit for the cycle, Pie offered up a pretty strong argument to see increased time spelling the current outfield trio.
At this point, what do the Birds have to lose?