Brother Lo's big hit: beating the Angels this week
No other way to describe the 1979 Orioles season than it was pure magic. Just one win in the last three games and it would have been perfect. So after breezing to the regular season title, the Orioles had to take on the California Angels to make it to the World Series. And that West Coast team had our old pals, Don Baylor and Bobby Grich along with a future Hall of Fame hurler, Nolan Ryan.
Game one in Baltimore pitted two Hall of Famers in fact, Ryan for the Angels and Jim Palmer for the Birds. Another future Orioles, Dan Ford hit Palmer for a solo homer to start the scoring. Rick Dempsey and Mark Belanger drove in runs in the third and this game was tied at 2-2.
The first game of the 79 playoffs went to extra innings. And both Palmer and Ryan were gone by then. Full Pack, Don Stanhouse was on the mound for Baltimore. Virginia-born, John Montague was in relief for California. Doug DeCinces got things rolling in the 10th with a leadoff single. However, DeCinces was standing at second base with two outs. The Angels decided to intentionally walk Al Bumbry to set up a force. Earl Weaver brought in John Lowenstein to pinch-hit for Belanger. And then the nearly 53,000 Orioles fans got up on their feet and cheered. Weaver ran out on the field. The game was over. Lowenstein had touch downed with a game-winning pinch-hit three-run homer. It set the pace for a three games to one AL championship win.
Now our present Birds headed to California to play the Angels this week. The sizzling Angels that is. Tough team to play after dropping 2 of the 3 to the Athletics. However, three batters into the opening game we were up 2-0. That was a Nick Markakis single and an Adam Jones homer. This game headed to the fifth inning knotted at 2-2. And then the one-two punch of Markakis and Jones came through again. This time, in the sixth inning. It was a Markakis double and Jones homer. That lead held up as Darren O’Day and Zach Birtton preserved Bud Norris’ 8th win.
Game two on Tuesday also ended 4-2 in favor of Baltimore. Miguel Gonzalez pitched well for the O’s. We did nothing offensively until the former White Sox lefty, Hector Santiago, left the game. JJ Hardy lit up the Angels bullpen with a pair of run-scoing doubles. Jon Schoop cracked a two-run homer. We put up four quick runs in the seventh and eighth innings. And we needed them as Mike Trout smacked a two-run homer in the home half of the eighth. Britton had another lock down save.
Now going for a sweep on Wednesday night, the Birds had a tough customer in Jared Weaver. Chris Tillman pitched well for us. Markakis came through again for us in the third with an RBI hit. The game was tied at 1-1. That other, Orioles hero, Jones added another RBI single in the sixth and we were up a run. That slim 2-1 lead took us to the eighth. Tommy Hunter was pitching great. And then the Angels got to him. We got beat 3-2. I’m not going to beat up on Hunter as he has been terrific in the late innings.