Entering the 9th inning of yesterday’s game things looked bleak for the Orioles. But in the top of the 9th Jones belted a two run homer to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead, and as they say, the rest was history. For the Baltimore Orioles, and the Baltimore Oriole fan base though, this was not just another win. This win was undoubtedly their most important win of the season thus far.
The Orioles had entered the game having lost 3 in a row, including 2 in a row to the Yankees and on the verge of being swept. Not only had they lost three in row but it was how they lost these three games. They lost to the White Sox on Thursday when Tommy Hunter, arguably our best reliever, with the game tied 2-2, gave up a home run to Adam Dunn in the bottom ninth. The next day the Yankees went into the bottom of the ninth down 2-1, but Jim Johnson blew the save and Yanks came back and won 3-2. The next day, we lose again to the Yankees in a one run game 5-4. Which brings us to yesterday’s game. Without the Jones homer, the Orioles would have lost another heart-wrenching one run game and would have been shut out. They would have returned home demoralized (I honestly don’t think ‘demoralized’ is too strong of a word to use here given the situation) to face one of the best teams in baseball, the Texas Rangers. However, with Jones homer, the Orioles get a little bit of that Orioles Magic/Comeback Kids feel to them, and they head home to face the Rangers on a high note. Oh, the difference one swing can make.
Of course, the Oriole players would not be the only people demoralized with a loss. I can hear Oriole fans now… “Our offense is terrible” “Pitchers need to go deeper into games” “Adam Jones is overrated” “We need a new closer” “Why does relish never win the hotdog race?” yada yada yada. However, with the win, these criticisms (though some do have validity) take a back seat and fans will spend the day talking about the Jones homerun, the Showalter celebratory kick, Orioles Magic, and of course, Machado’s play at third.
This also was a great win because fans witnessed one of the greatest plays you’ll ever seen anyone make when Manny Machado went well into foul territory and then, with his momentum taking him in the opposite direction, managed to throw a line drive to Chris Davis at first and get the out. It was a truly special play and would have been overshadowed if the Orioles had lost.
Moreover, this was a huge win in terms of the AL East Standings. With a loss to the Yankees yesterday, the Orioles would have fallen to 4th (yes, I said 4th) in the AL East.
This was also an important win (I hope your noticing a theme here) because not only was it against the Evil Empire, but the Orioles defeated Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the game, which not many people have done the past 15+ years.
The last piece of evidence that solidifies my claim that yesterday’s win was the greatest win of the season, came at the end of the game. Not only did Jim Johnson save the game, but he was dominate. Johnson had not retired the side in order in his previous 5 appearances. Not only, did Johnson retire the side in order but his stuff looked better than it has all year. Which means, at least temporarily, the dogs (and by dogs I mean the rabid media/fans) have been called off and Johnson’s job is safe.
I understand that every game counts, but players are humans and certain games mean more than others. This game against the Yankees, avoiding the sweep, winning a one run game, Jones getting the big hit against one of the of best ever and then Johnson slamming the door shut was exactly what the Baltimore Orioles players and fans needed.