13. Baltimore Orioles at Seattle Mariners (Friday, July 25 – 10:10 pm – 2-1)
For four months out of the year, NFL Games are a weekly event. For six months out of the year, MLB games are a daily routine.
That is one of the many things I love about the baseball season. Baseball games weave themselves into your daily life. It is impossible to watch all 162 games of your favorite team from in front of a TV or in a stadium seat the way it is to watch 16 NFL regular season games. Baseball is every day during the summer. As a result, every baseball season inevitably gives you a few “I was here when that happened” moments.
On July 25th, Tim, our Dad, and I were at San Diego International Airport awaiting our redeye flight back to Baltimore after a week-long west coast vacation that included (of course) stops in Oakland and Los Angeles to watch the O’s play. We got the airport early to make sure we could park ourselves in front of a TV at an airport bar to watch that night’s game in Seattle. For some reason, none of the airport bars had the MLB package. Fortunately, in 2014 a TV isn’t even always necessary to watch a game. I pulled out my iPad and the three of us huddled around the small video screen for nearly three hours.
Unfortunately, there was not much to see, at least on offense.
Nelson Cruz hit a second inning homerun off of King Felix to give the O’s the early lead. The line drive shot appeared to be barely above the grass as it traveled through the infield & outfield, until it was suddenly over the fence. In the bottom of the 6th, a Robinson Cano triple and a sacrifice fly off of Kevin Gausman tied the game at one. Gausman was very good on this night, allowing just that one run and working 6 2/3’s innings. Both starting pitchers were done after the seventh inning, leaving the game in the hands of the bullpen.
Going by the book, M’s manager Lloyd McClendon chose to go to his closer, Fernando Rodney, in the 9th inning of a tied game at home. Rodney breezed through the heart of the O’s order but Brian Matusz and Darren O’Day sat down Seattle in order in the 9th to send the game to extra innings.
We – meaning Tim, Dad, and I – were now in a precarious position. Our flight had begun the boarding process and none of us quite wanted to leave with the game still tied.
Thankfully, Chris Davis saw to it that we would not have to.
The beleaguered slugger crushed a 1-2 pitch from left-handed specialist Charlie Furbush into the right field seats to give the Birds a 2-1 lead. As mentioned in the previous game on our list, Davis might not have hit well in total in 2014, but he sure had a knack for being there when it counted. We reluctantly boarded our flight while the three Oriole hitters after Davis went down quietly.
Technology continued to be a life saver. Tim and I watched as much of the rest of the 10th as we could before the airplane taxied and our LTE began to wane. Game Day eventually sputtered as well and we were left in momentary suspense just as Robinson Cano reached on a fielding error charged to closer Zach Britton with two outs in the inning.
The idea of going a whole flight (or even 20-minutes until on-board WiFi could be purchased) seemed cruel at the moment. In a bit of serendipity – with Game Day completely frozen – we were able to refresh our Twitter feed one last time. The last tweet we saw before losing our connection completely was from Eduardo Encina:
The O’s registered their 57th win of the season and we got to enjoy a happy flight home.
For Kevin Gausman matching King Felix pitch for pitch, Chris Davis hitting another clutch homerun, and being able to watch it all unfold from San Diego International airport, July 25th at the Seattle Mariners is game #13 on our countdown.