The Orioles won last night with the help of a blown call at first base. They are, once again, tied for first in the American League East. It should be a happy day, but last night leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Like waking up on a Sunday after a night of mixing cheap beer with cheaper cigarettes and bad liquor; sure it was fun but you feel bad about it in the morning.
A win might be a win, but I hate winning like this. I hate giving the other team an excuse. I hate giving the “Orioles are just lucky” crowd more ammunition. The call was really bad as well. Even in real-time it seemed as though Tex was safe and the ump just blew it. If there is anything that can be taken away from that unfortunate incident is that perhaps Yankee fans will look at that play in some similar way the Orioles faithful look at “the catch”.
But that was not even the worst thing about last night; Nick Markakis is done for the year. CC Sabathia struck Markakis’ left hand with a 93 MPH fastball, one of the only pitches he was genuinely able to get up to that speed all night. Markakis jumped and begin shaking his hand feverishly; he knew, we all knew. While Sabathia, classy as always, was arguing for a strike call Markakis was being led off the field and into the locker room. He would be diagnosed with a broken thumb and he will be out at least six weeks. And that is just heartbreaking.
It is not that I think the Orioles’ playoff push is done – far from it. I think Nate McClouth can be a legitimate leadoff hitter, Xavier Avery or LJ Hoes can play in the outfield. Chris Davis has done well in right and Lew Ford is a solid glove out there as well. This team has met every challenge presented to it, they are too close not to rally around each other and get it done. But as an Orioles fan, a Markakis fan, it is soul crushing.
Nick Markakis was the first phase of players that was supposed to lead this team here. The Orioles are where they are because of Nick Markakis. And the fact that he will not be swinging a bat for the next month, he will not be on the field when the Orioles finally get win 82; it isn’t fair. Think of all the bad teams and bad times Nick Markakis has seen. He is having one of his best offensive year since his sophomore campaign. The fact that he will not be able to be an active part of this team’s most exciting September in a decade is just cruel.
So yes, the Orioles won. They won with some help from firstbase umpire Jerry Meals. They won because of another power-show featuring Mark Reynolds, JJ Hardy and Lew Ford (of all people). The won and pulled into a tie for first place yet again. They won – but the team lost something huge, this city lost something huge as well. Not having Markakis on that field for the next month will feel simply alien and wrong. The Orioles still control their own destiny and I think they will likely still make the playoffs, but doing it without Markakis it just isn’t right.