2012 Game of the Year: #7 vs. Tampa Bay Rays - September 12

The three game series against the Rays to finish the first September homestand was the first time the Orioles ran the 1992 ticket prices promotion for lower left field and center field seats. Cheaper seats equals more fans but does more fans automatically equal a better crowd? At the first game of the series, on September 11, the usually sparce lower left field seats were filled, with a lot of casual fans coming out to follow the pennant race. The casual crowd lead to lots of Ravens fans (definition of a “Ravens” fan - a Baltimore sports fan who abandonded the Orioles during the down years and still wears their football gear to baseball games, while also bemoaning anything negative that happens to the O’s during a game.)

The Orioles took the first game easily, 8–2, and despite our concerns that the “Ravens” fans would hamper our enjoyment of the game, the crowd was very entertaining. A fan a few rows in front of us tried starting the wave, usually an immediate sign Paul and I aren’t going to be amused with this person. The guy stands up and says, “We’re going to start the wave. 1…2…3…4…” and starts the wave on four. A group of people sitting near us bust out laughing.

“Who starts the wave on 4?”

For the rest of the game, our section would try to prod the guy into starting the wave, specifically on four.

I was entertained the rest of the night, if only because an early O’s lead held up and I didn’t have to concern myself with the wave being a nuisance.

On Wednesday Night, the entertaining Tuesday crowd was no where to be found and the tight game for the first eight innings lead to Paul and me rolling our eyes whenever a fairweather fan would start talking about a mistake or concern they had with the Orioles, even if there wasn’t a mistake or need for concern at that moment.

It was another one of those amazing 2012 Oriole games, with the 9th inning being an inning of the year candidate. In the top of the 9th with a runner on second and two outs, Jim Johnson delivered a sinker to Evan Longoria, who beat the ball into the ground Derek Jeter style down the third base line. Manny Machado raced in and seeing he had no play at first, proceeded to pump fake the ball to first, spin around, and throw to JJ Hardy at third base, catching pinch runner Rich Thompson in no man’s land and recording the final out of the inning.

At the game, the play was sensational and should have been in the top 5 defensive plays in all of baseball at the end of the year. The TV footage also lead to an infamous moment, as Gart Thorne cries out to Machado, “Don’t throw it away. Don’t throw it at all.”

Machado lead off the bottom of the 9th against Rays reliever Kyle Farnsworth with a single, moved to second on a Robert Andino sacrifice bunt, and walked off on a Nate McClouth single off the right field wall. Chris Davis lead the charge to celebrate with McClouth, picking him up with one arm and carrying him around on his shoulder as the O’s secured the series win and looked to take the series on Thursday afternoon against Jeremy Hellickson.

It was also nice to walk off in the 9th instead of playing the 2012 Orioles version of the game - nine plus innings.