By: Alex Hosmer
On this Memorial Day, Totally Tigers would like to extend heartfelt recognition and appreciation to the brave men and women in uniform, whose sacrifices give us the freedom to enjoy our national pastime and the ability to freely share opinions and perspectives on platforms like ours.
One year ago Monday—on Memorial Day 2018—I had the privilege of taking the pen for the Totally Tigers post of the day after being on location at Comerica Park, a deviation from my normal duties under the hood as technology administrator of the site. On Monday, this time reporting on-site from Camden Yards, I am grateful to share some thoughts on the Tigers’ 2019 Memorial Day game.
Despite the holiday and temperate weather, the attendance was just over 18,000, not even enough to give away the 20,000 promotional Orioles Pint Glasses and fewer fans than attended Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston. I practically had a row to myself. If only that would happen on airplanes more often!
Those who attended were a mix of Tiger and Oriole faithful, both young and old. Fans were present and engaged, but equally on both sides, I could sense a rather subdued overtone among them, one characteristic of two teams going through tough stretches within the context of major rebuilds. Fans were there out of sheer love for the game and their team, despite the less than ideal performance to this point on the field. Some observations:
• I sat a few rows ahead of a family decked out in Tiger gear. Arriving a mere 5 minutes after the first pitch (before the Orioles had even gone to bat), one of them said, “Are the Tigers down yet?” Compared with last year’s experience at Comerica Park, more skepticism has certainly set in. At last year’s game, what seemed to be cautious optimism and excitement for upward trajectory has shifted to skepticism and fearing the worst. And after the May the Tigers have been having, their sentiment is not hard to imagine.
• What struck me on the Orioles side was the standing ovation many fans gave Dan Straily after his 4-inning relief appearance. His pitching was very respectable for sure, but the ovation almost seemed overdone (like an ovation you’d give someone for pitching a shutout). Learning that he was recently shifted to the bullpen after several rough starts, it made me think seeing him succeed on the mound in some capacity provided a sense of relief for the fans. For a team like Baltimore, small victories go a long way.
It is always exciting to watch as new storylines emerge between two teams with long, storied pasts, no matter the circumstances or magnitude of any particular game.
Roaming the concourses at Camden Yards, much like Comerica Park, statues, signs, and original gear are tastefully integrated into the aesthetics of the ballpark. It feels like a walk through history. And should any readers find themselves at the park, Boog’s BBQ (a local favorite) or anything smothered in Old Bay seasoning is a must! Both the Orioles and Tigers have long histories and continued reverence to past greats—Gibby, Tram and Cal, to name a few—but must nonetheless look forward to achieving and sustaining similar success in this century, to write a new chapter that future generations will revere.
Both the Orioles and Tigers are charting similar paths for the cellars of their respective divisions in 2019, as can be expected for two teams in the midst of rebuilds. It is hard to believe the Tigers were just two games under .500 earlier this month, now being discussed with the likes of Baltimore and KC.
Both franchises hope that this series can allow them to put considerable skids behind them and start to build upon the newly laid foundations. I hesitate to say that any stretch at this point is pivotal or “must win” for teams in the cellar, but series like these against teams in the same situation are key opportunities to turn the corner.
For the Tigers on Monday, two cardinal sins plagued them from starting that critical upward trajectory: multiple defensive miscues and lack of timely hitting. The unearned runs resulting from Tiger errors were the difference in the game.
The turning point was Ronny Rodriguez’s botched double play that would have gotten the Tigers out of the 3rd inning with no runs scored. Instead, both Oriole baserunners took three bases, scoring one run and allowing Pedro Severino to smack a sac fly on the very next pitch. Oh, and who did Ronny think was going to cover second base in the 4th?? Credit the Orioles’ baserunners for their heads-up play.
Taking advantage of these mistakes and relying upon respectable pitching, notably getting out of the 9th inning where the Tigers had two on and nobody out, got the Orioles the W. Dan Straily, despite a recent demotion to the bullpen, made the most out of his lengthy relief appearance to silence the Tigers’ offensive responses during a brief outing from Gabriel Ynoa.
As for Daniel Norris, this loss will be tough to swallow, having given up only two earned runs through 5 and 2/3. While some feel he deserved better fate than taking the L, his throwing error in the first helped set up Renato Nunez’s two run homerun. Though scored as a single and a throwing error, if the throw were on-line, it seemed like he had a chance to throw Alberto out from my vantage point sitting on the first baseline.
After this series concludes on Wednesday, these teams will not see each other again until mid-September at Comerica Park as the season winds down. I am very interested to see how the remainder of the season plays ou and who will be in better shape going into 2020.
The games in-between now and then will dictate whether both teams’ recent losing is a microcosm of what we can expect down the stretch or an anomaly that will work itself out. Will we continue to consider them one in the same or will they change course and start to string wins together? On Monday, though, it was the Orioles who took that step in the right direction.
Thanks to Alex for being our eyes and ears in Baltimore. Glad we could give him the wheel for a day. Nice thoughtful and informative piece, Alex! Great job!
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