During my 16 seasons covering this team, I’ve seen countless Orioles’ games that slowly float into the late innings knotted in a tie.
Monday’s walkoff win was the type of game that the Orioles routinely lost during their dark period from 1998-2011.
They couldn’t put the other club away and then, ultimately, they would commit a miscue and the other team would score to secure the victory.
But that was then.
A number of these players were on the 2012 club that won 16 of 18 in extra innings. Even more were part of a 2014 division winner that could hold leads and could battle back with ease when necessary.
So on Monday, in a tight, 2-2 game, it was the young Colorado Rockies that fell apart. Reliever Jordan Lyles grabbed a comebacker and attempted to go home to get Adam Jones running from third with one out. But Lyles dropped the ball. Then he threw low and Rockies catcher Nick Hundley couldn’t hold onto it.
Had Lyles cleanly fielded it, spun and threw to second, he may have started an inning-ending double play. Instead, on Lyles’ fielder’s choice error, he set up the Orioles’ second consecutive walkoff win, and fifth straight victory.
It wasn’t just pure luck, though.
Jones made it to third on a single to right by Jonathan Schoop. It was a nice piece of hitting by Schoop and a good example of hustling by Jones.
“That’s called pride. Play the game hard, man,” Jones said. “I can run. It’s a situation where we need a guy on third base. I’m going to bust my tail to get there.”
His dash and stutter down the third base line also was a good piece of baserunning – getting in Lyles’ eyesight and forcing him to make a good throw to home (which he didn’t).
“It’s a great baserunning play,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Anything they can turn two on, you’ve got to go. You’ve got to sacrifice one (out) at the plate to continue the inning. The tough one is the slow-developing ball there. … Adam takes a lot of pride in being an all-around player, and he is.”
It was Jones’ experience showing through. Experience is something this team definitely has.
After sweeping the Cleveland Indians this weekend, and ending the series with a dramatic, game-ending homer by Nolan Reimold, this easily could have been a trap game for the Orioles.
It was hot and sticky. There wasn’t much of a crowd in the stands (19,361). The Rockies don’t have a good record (47-52).
“(It) was one of those games [right after] three real intense games against obviously one of the best teams in the American League. It’s a Monday, it’s hotter than sin,” Showalter said. “I knew this was going to be a challenge for us.”
It’s one of those games throughout a long season that a good team finds a way to win and a bad team finds a way to lose.
These Orioles are on the positive side of that equation now after years of throwing that ball away.
Kim on his way; Dariel Alvarez optioned
At the beginning of the season, Hyun Soo Kim didn’t want to go the minors to find his swing. He stayed, didn’t play much for the first month and then became one of the Orioles’ most consistent hitters in the first half.
He had no problem playing at Double-A Bowie this week, because it meant a short, two-game rehab stint to test his right hamstring. After going hitless Sunday, Kim went 2-for-4 Monday, including a two-run homer.
It was Kim’s fourth home run this season, and first in Maryland.
And it was an indication that he will be activated Tuesday, which will be a big lift for the Orioles.
After Monday’s game, the club optioned outfielder Dariel Alvarez back to Triple-A Norfolk, paving the way for Kim’s return.
Alvarez was demoted instead of Julio Borbon because the Orioles need Borbon’s speed and ability to play centerfield in a pinch now that Joey Rickard is on the DL.
Jones climbs another rung on O’s history ladder
With a second inning single that scored J.J. Hardy, Jones moved past another former Oriole great on another all-time club list.
The hit gave Jones his 702nd RBI as an Oriole, passing Rafael Palmeiro for seventh in the club’s modern-day history. It’s a pretty impressive list in front of him: Cal Ripken Jr., 1,695; Brooks Robinson, 1,357; Eddie Murray, 1,224; Boog Powell, 1,063; Ken Singleton, 766, Brady Anderson, 744; Jones, 703.
Jones has spent much of this year climbing the club’s all-time ranks.
In his ninth season as an Oriole, Jones is now sixth all-time in homers and 11th in hits. He has the most RBIs and extra base hits at Camden Yards and is second in homers at the park, behind only Palmeiro (124 to 115).
I wrote it earlier this year and I’ll write it again. Jones has made himself one of the elite players to ever don an Orioles uniform.