And Boog came through; Twins series review
Sure it feels like it was yesterday. It’s a new era in baseball. The date is Oct. 4, 1969.
The Birds are hosting Minnesota. Yes, the regular season is over. And it’s time for the first ever American League playoff games. It’s a best 3 of 5 series before a team can head to the World Series. Still it’s bit scary.
The 69 Orioles had a marvelous season winning a franchise record 109 games but that could all be wiped away by the Twins. And this is a Minnesota team with MVP Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Cesar Tovar and Tony Oliva.
The opening game pits side-arming right hander Jim Perry vs. our 23-game winner, Mike Cuellar. Frank Robinson homers for the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth. And then the Twins knot the game their half of the fifth.
What happened in the home half of the fifth? Yes, another homer. This time from Mark Belanger. Yes, the very-light hitting Belanger hits a rare round-tripper and the Birds are up 2-1. Stay tuned, Belanger will do something else good in this game.
The Twins’ 7th is key. A harmless walk to Killebrew proves nearly fatal. That’s because the sweet-swinging Oliva takes the left-hander Cuellar out of the park. It’s 3-2 Twins.
It’s 3-2 to the ninth. I’m in Aunt Lillian’s apartment in suburban Virginia. And I began to cry. Heck, it’s only one game. But we can’t lose can we? Boog Powell led off the ninth against Perry. And Boog delivers a solo shot., We are tied in Baltimore.
This game would go a full 12 innings. That’s when Belanger singled to lead off the 12th. It was a perfect bunt from Paul Blair that brought Belanger in with the winning run in the 4-3 win.
It was the first of 10 straight American League playoff games that the great Orioles teams would win in a row.
Now what happened to our present Birds on their trip to Minnesota? Somehow I get more aggravated by a team of good hittters that suddenly can’t figure out how to score. That’s what happened in this series.
Actually we didn’t hit the ball well the entire series. The lone win came in game one. Ubaldo Jimenez was brilliant on the mound. He fanned 10 Twins in winning 3-0. Zach Britton and Tommy Hunter finished up. Nellie Cruz cracked another long homer.
Saturday’s game looked like the Orioles didn’t come to play. We didn’t hit well nor pitched well in a 6-1 loss. Still, we trailed just 2-1 heading to the fifth. Nick Markakis and JJ Hardy both had 2 hits.
Cruz again was the hitting hero in the series finale. He smashed his 9th homer of the season in the sixth inning and that brought us within 3-2. That was the good news. Manny Machado had his first two-hit game in the 5-2 loss. Delmon Young also had a pair of hits.