Walking Off Memory Lane: 2017 O's one of 7 in club history with a dozen or more walkoffs - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Paul Folkemer

Walking Off Memory Lane: 2017 O’s one of 7 in club history with a dozen or more walkoffs

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Let’s face it: 2017 has been a pretty uninspiring year for the Orioles. Between shoddy starting pitching and a slump-prone offense, the club clinched its first losing season since 2011.

But there’s one thing the 2017 Orioles did very well: Win games in walkoff fashion.

The Orioles notched 12 walkoff victories this season, marking the seventh time in club history that they’ve had a dozen or more walkoffs. So while the Orioles didn’t win as many games as they would have liked, they did tend to show a flair for drama.

Here’s a look at the seven Orioles’ seasons with the most walkoff wins:

*One game had no walkoff RBI (winning run scored on an error)

Notable games and stats:

*On May 10, with the Orioles tied with the Royals, 5-5, manager Earl Weaver elected to let relief pitcher Jim Hardin bat for himself in the ninth (remember, this was the pre-designed hitter era). Facing former Oriole Moe Drabowsky — whom the Royals had selected from Baltimore in the expansion draft the previous winter — Hardin clubbed a game-ending homer. It was the only walkoff home run by a pitcher in Orioles history.

*On Oct. 1, the final day of the regular season, the Orioles denied the Tigers’ Mickey Lolich a 20-win season when Mark Belanger slapped a walkoff single against him in the 10th. Lolich had to settle for a 19-11 record that year, though he picked up a pair of 20-win seasons later in his career.

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*The Orioles carried over their regular season walkoff success into the playoffs. In Game 1 of the first-ever ALCS, Paul Blair stunned the Twins by dropping down a perfect, two-out bunt in the 12th inning to score Belanger from third base.

*An equally dramatic Game 2 of the ALCS ended with another walkoff win. Both starters, the Orioles’ Dave McNally and the Twins’ Dave Boswell, carried shutouts into the 11th. McNally completed the inning; Boswell didn’t. The Orioles put two aboard with two outs before Boswell was replaced by Ron Perranoski, who surrendered a game-winning single to pinch-hitter Curt Motton. Perranoski allowed three walkoff hits to the Orioles that season, including two in the playoffs.


Notable games and stats:

*Old friend Drabowsky was the losing pitcher for the Royals in the Orioles’ walkoff win on May 7. Just over a month later, the Orioles reacquired Drabowsky in a trade, and he was the winning pitcher in two Orioles walkoff wins later that year (July 8 and Sept. 29). If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

*On July 7, Brooks Robinson blasted a walkoff grand slam against the Yankees’ Lindy McDaniel. The following night, the Orioles walked off the Yankees a second time — and it was again McDaniel who coughed it up, this time on a Don Buford RBI single.

*The Orioles walked off both ends of a doubleheader against the Senators Sept. 29, winning the opener on a Belanger sac fly and the nightcap on a Frank Robinson double.


Notable games and stats:

*You probably recognize most of the hitters who delivered walkoffs, but a couple of names are much more obscure. Bob Oliver was a journeyman first baseman who played only nine games with the Orioles, but his game-ending fielder’s choice provided the only run in a 1-0, 17-inning victory over the Brewers on Sept. 27. Then there’s Mike Reinbach, whose 12 games with the Orioles in 1974 accounted for his entire stint in the majors. His walkoff single April 21 provided the second — and final — RBI of his brief career.

*Poor Tom Buskey. The right-handed reliever was the losing pitcher for the Yankees in their walkoff loss to the Orioles April 21. He was traded to Cleveland five days later, and on May 22, he again lost a walkoff to the Orioles, this time as an Indian.

*The Orioles walked off the Brewers on Sept. 29 without putting a ball into play. Jim Slaton walked the bases loaded in the ninth, and Tom Murphy walked Boog Powell to force home the winning run.


*One game had no walkoff RBI (winning run scored on an error)

Notable games and stats:

*In April, the Orioles had three walkoff wins against three different teams during a single homestand (April 22, 29 and 30). All three losing pitchers were right-handed relievers named Mike: The Tigers’ Mike Henneman, the Mariners’ Mike Jackson and the Angels’ Mike Witt.

*Light-hitting utility infielder Rene Gonzales won the April 29 game with a ninth-inning homer. It was his only home run of the season in 121 plate appearances. He hit just 19 blasts in his 13-year career.

*The Orioles won a June 8 walkoff on a throwing error by Yankees third baseman Jim Leyritz in the 10th. Still, the Yankees couldn’t be too upset with Leyritz — if not for his game-tying RBI single in the ninth, they would’ve lost an inning earlier.


Notable games and stats:

*Leave it to Orioles legend Brooks Robinson to provide one last magical moment at the twilight of his Hall of Fame career. On April 19, the 39-year-old Robinson — who was no longer an everyday player at that point — came off the bench to pinch-hit in the bottom of the 10th with the Orioles trailing Cleveland, 5-3.

The announced attendance for the game was 4,826, but surely millions of Orioles fans will claim they were at Memorial Stadium for what happened next: Brooks powered a walkoff, three-run homer, winning the game for Baltimore (video available here). It turned out to be the final home run of Robinson’s career, as he retired later that season.

*On the opposite end of the spectrum from Robinson was Dave Criscione, a backup catcher whose MLB career lasted less than a month. He played seven games for the Orioles in 1977, but he made the most of his one career homer and RBI. On July 27 against the Brewers, Criscione ended the game with an 11th-inning homer off Sam Hinds.

*Among the many classic Earl Weaver stories in Baltimore lore is when deeply religious outfielder Pat Kelly told him, “It’s great to walk with the Lord,” only for Weaver to respond, “I’d rather you walk with the bases loaded.” Earl got his wish May 23, when Kelly indeed walked with the bases loaded in the 10th inning to bring home the winning run.


*One game had no walkoff RBI (winning run scored on an error)

Notable games and stats:

*The fact that the Orioles had 12 walkoff wins in 2010 was kind of amazing, considering how bad the team was for most of the year. The Orioles languished to an MLB-worst 32-73 record through Aug. 1 before Buck Showalter took over as manager and went 34-23. Six of the Orioles’ walkoff wins occurred under Showalter, including three in his first homestand as skipper.

*The Orioles walked off the White Sox on Aug. 6 with an Adam Jones RBI single in the 10th, but the more significant moment occurred earlier in the game when a rail-thin, 21-year-old lefty named Chris Sale made his MLB debut for Chicago. He faced two batters in relief, giving up a hit and a walk.


Notable games and stats:

*For someone who has had a poor offensive season overall, Mark Trumbo has a knack for walkoff heroics. Trumbo led the 2017 team with four walkoff hits, including his Opening Day home run off the Blue Jays’ Jason Grilli on April 3.

*The Blue Jays were the most frequent victims of Orioles walkoffs, surrendering four of them. Grilli was responsible for two, as Welington Castillo tagged him for another walkoff homer May 19.

*Manny Machado launched three walkoff home runs this year, all of them since mid-August. That included an Aug. 18 game-ending grand slam against the Angels.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 29, 2017 at 7:26 am

    The irony of the O’s penchant for walk off wins, is that they don’t have much of a penchant for the simple WALK ON.

  2. GSISDANNO

    September 29, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Really interesting article. It brought back some memories of games I attended. I was surprised there weren’t more games from 1979. I seem to remember some games from that season, including a game against the White Sox where Eddie Murray stole home. Then, there was the post-season walk-off against the Angels in the ALCS when John Lowenstein hit a pinch hit home run. What seemed different about the 2017 Orioles was the number of leads they squandered. It all started with that Friday night game at Yankee Stadium where they had a big lead and lost in extra innings. We are not used to that.

    • Paul Folkemer

      September 29, 2017 at 7:02 pm

      There were 10 walkoffs in 1979, including the Lowenstein ALCS game and the Murray-stealing-home games you mentioned.

  3. Birdman

    September 29, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    For pure drama and excitement, tough to top the walk-off homers on consecutive nights, June 22 and 23, 1979, by Doug DeCinces and Eddie Murray, for come from behind wins against the Tigers.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 30, 2017 at 11:02 pm

      Orioles Magic. I was at the DeCinces game. Really.

  4. Bancells Moustache

    September 29, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Great article Paul. You had me at “now batting…number eighty eight…Rene…Gonzalez”

  5. Strovel

    September 29, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    I wasn’t at the Brooksie final homer game, but I was at the Dave Criscione game. Was sitting in the first row of the box seats down past the tarp and I swear that homer went right over our heads. The things you remember from being eight years old.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 30, 2017 at 11:04 pm

      Bud Selig, then owner of the Brewers, says the names Criscione and Stefero still give him shivers. In a bad way.

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