The pitching match-up was top notch….if it took place in 2013. When the Tigers and Orioles took the field for the final game of their four game series both teams sent pitchers to the mound whose best days were in the rear-view mirror. Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez peaked during his first full season in Detroit going 13-8 with an ERA+ of 162, finishing 4th in the American League Cy Young race. It was the first year of the 5 year $80MM contract Sanchez signed after being traded to the Tigers during the 2012 season. Ubaldo Jimenez started for the O’s. Jimenez signed a 4 year $50MM contract with Baltimore after a strong finish to the 2013 season for the Indians. In his 3+ years with the O’s Jimenez is 31-40 with an ERA+ of 81 where 100 is average. As the 2017 season winds down so does both starters time with their respective teams. Headed into the game I anticipated a high scoring affair.
This was the fourth consecutive season Griffin and I have attended a game at Orioles Park at Camden Yards. Unfortunately for us the O’s are winless, losing to the Blue Jays, Rays and Astros. Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler led off the game with a double against Ubaldo Jimenez, but was stranded at third to end the inning. Anibal Sanchez did not fare as well in the 1st inning allowing back to back to back home runs to Jonathan Schoop, Chris Davis and Trey Mancini. The home runs gave the Orioles a 4-0 lead which was just the start of their offensive barrage. Manny Machado’s RBI double made it 5-0 O’s. Joey Rickard led off the 4th inning with a solo home run and was followed a batter later by a Manny Machado two run shot, sending Anibal Sanchez to the showers. The 8-0 lead was more than enough for the Orioles who added four runs in the bottom of the 8th to take a 12-1 lead. Jimenez danced through some jams in his 5.2 innings allowing 9 hits and 1 run. For most pitchers this would be an average start but for Ubaldo it warranted a standing ovation. Two Orioles, Manny Machado (4-5 2B, HR, 5 RBI) and Joey Rickard (4-4 2B, HR, SB) were triples away from being the first teammates to ever hit for a cycle in the same game leading the Orioles to an impressive 12-3 win.
As Anibal Sanchez’s day went so does the Detroit Tigers prospects for future contention. After making the playoffs in 4 consecutive years from 2011-2014 the Tigers are on the precipice of a rebuild. The Orioles continue to fight for a Wild Card spot, but lack the starting pitching to string together a winning streak. The 12-3 win gave them a 55-56 record, three weeks later they are 66-65 on the outside of the playoff picture. Despite the home teams inconsistency throughout the 2017 season visiting Camden Yards is always a great time. The ballpark started the revitalization of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the modernization of MLB ballparks. This year marks Camden Yards 25th season and it continues to hold up in my rankings despite the 21 ballparks built since its’ opening. I look forward to making more trips down to Camden Yards in the future and hope the O’s can continue their recent stretch of success.
Not only was this Griffin’s first time seeing the Orioles win; it was also his first time on the Camden Yards scoreboard. Thanks to modern technology I was able to take a picture of Griffin and my nephew Owen, tag it on Instagram using #Birdland and bam! it’s up on the scoreboard a few minutes later.