I arrived home late last night from Cleveland and Pittsburgh. I took in Friday and Saturday night’s Oriole wins at Progressive Field and a game at the beautiful PNC Park Sunday afternoon. These were two more stadiums on my journey to see an official game at every MLB park, numbers 17 and 18 respectively. But Cleveland was all business, with my Orange gear on I was there to see the Orioles play. The second night we actually sat with 5 Orioles fans and were louder than the Indians fans in our section which was in the bleachers. The Indians have some interesting traditions, none more unique then the drum guy. This guy plays his little bass drum all night long when the Indians have a runner in scoring position and everyone in return claps along.
In my last blog, i deemed this series against the Indians as the most important series of the season up to this point. I was right with the Orioles taking 3 of 4 and the Yankees getting swept in Oakland. The O’s are now just 6.5 games back of the Yankees and tied for the Wildcard lead with a huge two week period ahead with Tampa, Oakland, and the Yankees. Its now or never and the two games I saw in Cleveland along with Sunday’s was the start! But back to the trip, I was pleasantly surprised that my party of three wasn’t the only Orioles fans at Progressive Field. The fans in Cleveland were also very welcoming towards us Orioles fans. I did make the classic mistake of asking the woman next to me who was more hated, Model or Lebron. She got over it!
The highlight of the two games in Cleveland besides the obvious two wins that I got to see on the road, was hearing the roar of the crowd when Jim Thome took his first steps towards the plate of his first at bat Friday night. He went on to double, Homer, and single that night! Thus they didn’t cheer for him very much the 2nd night! His home run in Friday nights game put him alone at 6th all-time, passing short time Oriole, Sammy Sosa. This was the first significant home run that I had seen in person since Manny Ramirez’s 500th which took place May 31st of 2008 off of the submariner, Chad Bradford, at Camden Yards. The Orioles lost that game 6-3. Thome of course homered in the 2nd game of the trip on a solo shot off Zach McAllister. His first two home runs as an Oriole, in my first two games seeing him play in an Oriole uniform.
The MVPs of the trip are Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez who shut down the Indians in front of two gigantic Cleveland crowds. Both nights after the games the Indians put on an incredible firework show called “Rock N Blast.” This is a once in a year extravangza sponsored by the the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was the only reason fans stuck around throughout the Orioles 10-2 beatdown of the Indians. Big round of applause to Ryan Flaherty as well for homering in back to back nights along with Thome. The Indians are getting ready to install a Jim Thome statue in center field already and he hasn’t even retired yet! I’ll be back Cleveland for the Ravens-Browns game in November!