The 2015 season wasn’t a good one for the Orioles. It wasn’t a bad one, either. It was memorable. Let’s look at five of the most positive memories of this year.
1) April 29—The fanless game
After Baltimore experienced unrest that caused fans to be temporarily locked in to one game and the postponement of two others, the Orioles played in front of the first officially empty house in major league history.
The Orioles 8-2 win was remarkable for what those of us there got to experience. First base coach Wayne Kirby, who has the loudest voice imaginable, exhorting base runners, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu yelling “I got it, I got it” on a pop fly.
And, there were the players who tried to make light of a most difficult situation: Caleb Joseph pantomimed signing autographs, Chris Davis tossing balls into the empty stands.
There were three scouts allowed in, and they had a fine view of the game.
It was the fastest Orioles game of the season, two hours, three minutes.
2) June 16-Orioles hit a club record eight home runs
Manny Machado led off the game with a home run off Philadelphia’s Jerome Williams. The home runs kept coming.
Machado hit two, Chris Parmelee, who had been added to the roster before the game, had two. Jimmy Paredes, David Lough and Chris Davis each had one.
The Orioles led 17-3 after six innings.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg used longtime major league outfielder Jeff Francoeur to pitch the seventh and eighth. Francoeur, who had pitched in the minors, threw 48 pitches including the Orioles club record eighth home run by Ryan Flaherty.
The Phillies’ bullpen phone was off the hook as Sandberg tried to remove Francoeur. Not until the Orioles bullpen yelled at them did Philadelphia realize something was amiss with their phone.
3) July 18-Tillman is nearly perfect
Chris Tillman allowed a leadoff double to Detroit’s Ian Kinsler in the first inning. Two batters later, he walked Victor Martinez.
Twenty-three batters later, Tillman left the game after eight innings. He didn’t allow another baserunner, and in a season of erratic starts, Tillman had a wonderful one.
He threw 106 pitches, and in the Orioles second game after four days off for the All-Star break, manager Buck Showalter decided that Zach Britton needed the work, and he finished up the masterpiece.
Eleven days later, Tillman came within an out of a complete game. He turned an ankle late in the game, causing him to miss time, and the Orioles went without a complete game in 2015 for the first time in team history.
4) August 19-Urrutia ends the show
For the third time in six games--the first time in club history--the Orioles ended a game with a home run.
On Aug. 14, Machado’s two-run home run in the 13th inning gave the Orioles an 8-6 win over the Oakland Athletics.
A night later, Chris Davis homered off Oakland’s switch-pitcher Pat Venditte in the ninth for a 4-3 win.
Four days later, Henry Urrutia’s home run off the New York Mets’ Carlos Torres was the difference in a 5-4 win.
It was Urrutia’s first home run in the major leagues, and by the end of the following week, he was back in Norfolk.
The Orioles were five games over .500 after Urrutia’s home run, and were in the midst of the playoff run.
A few weeks later, after the Orioles lost 15 of 18, they had another memorable home run night when they scored 10 runs in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals on Sept. 11.
Nolan Reimold and Steve Clevenger hit grand-slam homers in the inning. It was the first time in nine years a team had hit two in one inning, and the first time the Orioles did it since 1986. They’re the only team in major league history to twice hit two grand slams in an inning.
5) Oct. 4-Machado plays 162, Davis says goodbye
Manny Machado had knee surgeries in 2013 and 2014, and he was determined to play every game in 2015.
Machado became the only major leaguer to play in each of his team’s games, and he topped off a terrific year by playing in his 162nd game.
Chris Davis, who is likely to leave via free agency, hit two home runs, including one in his final at-bat.
Davis, who was named the Most Valuable Oriole, hit 47 home runs, the fourth most in team history.
Besides the 19 runs scored against Philadelphia, the Orioles scored 18 twice.
All that offense couldn’t propel the Orioles into the postseason.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at five forgettable moments from 2015.