No matter how it ends for the Baltimore Orioles, the 2014 season will have been the high-water mark for the team since 1997. What a generation of fans that hasn't seen a consistently competitive baseball team in years might not know or remember is that the Baltimore Orioles have a long and storied postseason history. Let's revisit some of the most memorable postseason moments in Orioles history.
1966 World Series Game 1
In the top of the first inning, Frank and Brooks Robinson hit back-to-back home runs off of Don Drysdale, helping to propel the O's to an early 4-1 lead against the Los Angeles Dodgers. During the regular season that year, Drysdale, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984, held offenses to 0.7 home runs per nine innings pitched. But wait, there's more. …
1966 World Series Game 1 Continued
After retiring the first batter in the bottom of the third inning, the Orioles' Dave McNally walked the bases loaded. Manager Hank Bauer brought in 31-year-old journeyman Moe Drabowsky, who pitched 6.2 innings, allowing one hit and striking out 11. In the process, Drabowsky tied the World Series record for consecutive strikeouts, fanning six during the fourth and fifth innings. The Orioles won, 5-2.
1966 World Series Game 2
At 20 years old, Jim Palmer squared off against six-time All-Star Sandy Koufax and delivered a shutout. With the game knotted at 0-0 in the top of the fifth inning, the O's broke through with three unearned runs. All told, the Dodgers committed six errors on their way to a 4-0 loss.
1966 World Series Game 4
The Orioles completed a four-game sweep of the Dodgers. In the process, they shut out the Dodgers for 33 consecutive innings, from the bottom of the fourth inning in Game 1 through the last out of Game 4. The O's won the series by a composite score of 13-2 (5-2, 6-0, 1-0 and 1-0).
1969 American League Championship Series Game 1
With the Orioles trailing Minnesota 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning at Memorial Stadium, Boog Powell hit a game-tying home run. Center fielder Paul Blair drove in the game-winning run with a bunt single in bottom of the 12th.
1969 ALCS Game 2
McNally pitched an 11-inning shutout against Minnesota, giving up three hits, striking out 11 and leading the Orioles to a 1-0 victory. Pinch-hitter Curt Motton, who delivered a total of 27 hits during the regular season, drove in the game's only run.
1969 World Series
After winning Game 1 against the New York Mets' Tom Seaver at Memorial Stadium, the Orioles were swept. The Mets seemed to have all the magic, winning 2-1, 5-0, 2-1 and 5-3. Only one Oriole mustered more than three hits in the five-game series: Powelll with five.
1970 World Series
Coming off of the 1969 World Series defeat, the Orioles redeemed themselves in 1970, beating the Cincinnati Reds for the championship, four games to one. Third baseman Brooks Robinson turned the five games into his own personal highlight reel by making some of the greatest defensive plays in World Series history. He picked up the series MVP for his performance.
1971 World Series
After winning the first two games, the Orioles lost the next three to the Pittsburgh Pirates, including the first night game in World Series history, Game 3 at Three Rivers Stadium. The Orioles forced a Game 7, but lost their second World Series in three years, going down 2-1. Pittsburgh right fielder Roberto Clemente, the series MVP, provided the margin of victory during the decisive game by homering off of Mike Cuellar.
1979 World Series
The Orioles blew a three-games-to-one series lead to the "We Are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates, losing Game 7 at home 4-1 on the strength of Willie Stargell's go-ahead two-run home run in the sixth inning off of starter Scott McGregor. Significantly, in his first World Series Eddie Murray, the heart and soul of the O's lineup, went 4-for-26 for a .154 average.
1983 World Series
Following a gritty and thrilling three-games-to-one victory in the ALCS versus the Chicago White Sox, the O's 1983 World Series matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies was mostly anti-climactic, although it did feature Jim Palmer's last victory and a two-homer performance by Murray during the fifth and final game.
1996 American League Championship Series
In his first season as the Orioles skipper, Davey Johnson led the team back to the postseason for the first time since 1983. Unfortunately, the Yankees got the upper hand, winning the ALCS four games to one. Most people think the (in)famous Derek Jeter/Jeffrey Maier home run cost the O's the series. But in fact, the incident occurred in Game 1, and merely tied the score in the bottom of the eighth inning. Furthermore, the Orioles evened up the series at one game apiece before going on to lose three in a row.
1997 American League Division Series
Johnson kicked off the 1997 ALDS against the Seattle Mariners by making the gutty decision to load up the Orioles' lineup with right-handers against left-handed pitcher Randy Johnson. That included replacing the team's home run leader, Rafael Palmiero, with lightly used Jerome Walton. The move paid off. The Orioles touched up Johnson for five runs and won the game, 9-3. They went on to take the series three games to one.
1997 American League Championship Series
After winning Game 1 against the Cleveland Indians, the Orioles appeared to be cruising to another victory in Game 2 when the unthinkable happened. The O's took a 4-2 lead into the eighth inning. With two outs and two on base, the team's then-super set-up man Armando Benitez yielded a three-run home run to Marquis Grissom that turned the tide. Cleveland won the game, 5-4, and the series, 4-2.
2012 Wild Card Game
After 14 consecutive losing seasons, the Orioles surged into the playoffs with a 93-69 record and then won the one-game Wild Card playoff against the then-vaunted Texas Rangers who had played in the two previous World Series in 2010 and '11. Late-season pick-up Joe Saunders out-dueled Yu Darvish and the O's got to pop the champagne for the first time since the ALDS win against the Mariners in 1997. While the Orioles were dismissed by the Yankees during the ALDS, 2012 marked the club's return to competitiveness.