It was almost the perfect farewell to Memorial Stadium for Baltimore-born Dave Johnson.
He pitched well for five innings, keeping the Orioles in the game, mingled with the fans at the turnstiles beforehand and went into the off-season on a positive note.
"Not all players have the close relationship with the fans here that I do, so it wasn't new for me," he said of the players' surprise appearance at the gates as the crowd streamed in.
"I think it was neat that we were getting a little more personal with them. I like to do things for them, be a part of it. I am one of them."
Johnson has had a miserable season on the field, one racked by injury, poundings on the mound and trips into and out of the starting rotation.
"I felt like the last four or five games, I had to try to make up for all that's happened and I learned you can't do it," he said.
He finished 0-4 in his last eight starts and didn't have a victory as a starter after Aug. 6.
But his final start at the stadium he once attended as a fan will be memorable.
"I loved the big crowd, the bigger the better," he said. "And it was good to get off on this note. Now I can go to spring training with nothing to make up. All that's behind me."
He may get his wish
Mike Flanagan has expressed a desire to be the last pitcher on the Memorial Stadium mound today and his wish may be fulfilled.
"If it's possible, I'll get him out there," said Oates. "He deserves it. But winning the ballgame comes first. We'll see how it works out."
If Flanagan is the last to pitch from the mound, it will mean the Orioles have won.
Cecil Fielder will become the first Tiger since Rusty Staub in 1978 to play in all 162 games. Fielder and Tettleton need 1 more JTC homer to tie Norm Cash and Rocky Colavito's 1962 total of 76 combined homers. . . . Cal Ripken broke Frank Robinson's 1966 club record of 367 total bases with a first-inning double. . . . A potential beanball war after the first 2 innings was averted when cooler heads prevailed after both benches and bullpens cleared in the second inning. It started in the first when a pitch from Tigers starter Mark Leiter soared over Sam Horn's head and they exchanged words. Then Tony Phillips objected to a close Johnson pitch in the second, clearing the benches and bullpens.