Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun
September 28, 2011
I've probably covered 1,200 or more Orioles games in my career. And, honestly, few have had meaning. That's why the last game of 2011 will stick out in my mind as one of the most memorable of the past decade.
On Sept. 28 -- game 162 -- the Orioles were completing another lost season. But the game held significance for their opponent, American League East bully the Boston Red Sox, who were trying to avoid an historical collapse and make the playoffs.
The Orioles trailed 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth and Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon, who hadn't lost a game all season, had already stuck out two batters. Chris Davis then doubled and Nolan Reimold followed with a two-strike, two-out, ground-rule double to tie the score.
Then Robert Andino, who provided the club a spark all season, dropped a game-winning single in front of Boston left fielder Carl Crawford to give the Orioles a 4-3 win. Even though a large chunk of the announced crowd of 29,749 had left due to a prior rain delay, Camden Yards erupted. The Orioles tackled Andino and Reimold as if they had won the Little League World Series. And the Red Sox walked dejectedly off the field, discovering moments later that the Tampa Bay Rays had beaten the New York Yankees and the Sox would be shut out of the playoffs -- and ultimately undergo huge offseason changes.
It was a crazy night for reporters covering the game because we had to incorporate what we had just seen with the Rays' win while also trying to put the season in perspective on a tight deadline, further pumping the adrenaline. The scene supported my decade-long theory that if this team were ever good, Camden Yards would be electric every evening.