Key moments from Game 1 of the AL Championship Series

October 10, 2014|By Don Markus | The Baltimore Sun

First sustained cheer of the night: 7:12 p.m., as the grounds crew pulls back the tarp that had covered the field all day.

Player introductions begin: 7:47 p.m. The orange towels begin waving with the introduction of longtime trainer Richie Bancells. Injured catcher Matt Wieters receives a pretty loud ovation, but the biggest — and most sustained — cheers go to Buck Showalter, who comes out with a Gary Williams-like fist pump. Among the players, it sounds as if Nick Markakis gets the loudest ovation coming out of the dugout.

First pitch ceremony: Boog Powell, known in Baltimore for hitting home runs and making great barbeque. While his windup to Wieters looks solid, the ball bounces twice before it gets to home plate and then dribbles through Weiters' legs. He, too, looks a bit rusty.

National anthem: Richard Troxell, a world-reknowned opera singer who was born in Thurmont, gives a rousing rendition and is certainly prepared for the 'O' moment, raising his hands as the crowd joins in.

Gametime: Orioles take the field at 8:06 p.m. Temperature is 59 degrees. More importantly, game time precipitation is 0.

First pitch: After a five-minute delay while the bright lights from the TBS studio in the left-center-field flag court are turned off, Chris Tillman delivers a strike to Royals leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar at 8:11 p.m. After a second stike, Escobar lines out to Adam Jones in center.

First inning (top): Following Escobar's lineout, Nori Aoki grounds weakly to first baseman Steve Pearce for the second out. Lorenzo Cain reaches on a swinging roller that doesn't draw a a throw from third baseman Ryan Flaherty. After falling behind Eric Hosmer, 3-1, Tillman strikes out the Kansas City cleanup hitter on a full-court curveball.

First inning (bottom): The Orioles go quietly against Royals starter "Big Game" James Shields, with Markakis flying out to center, Alejandro De Aza doing the same to left and Jones grounding out to shortstop.

First Orioles hit: After thinking he had drawn a walk on a 3-1 pitch and being called back to the plate by a second strike, then fouling off the next pitch, Nelson Cruz opens the second inning by singling sharply up the middle off Shields.

First Orioles threat: J.J. Hardy follows Cruz on base with a one-out single to left field. After Flaherty strikes out, Nick Hundley hits a ground ball to deep shortstop and beats out a throw to load the bases. But No. 9 hitter Jonathan Schoop pops to second base to end the inning.

First Royals run: With one out in the third, Escobar cranks a 2-0 fastball from Tillman into the left-field seats. It is the fifth postseason home run for a team that finished dead last in the majors with 95 this season, one more in the playoffs than an Orioles team that was first with 211.

First blowout innning: The home run by Escobar seems to unhinge Tillman, who gives up a single to Aoki, then throws seven straight balls —walking Cain on four pitches and going 3-0 on Hosmer before striking him out. Billy Butler follows with an infield single that J.J. Hardy nearly turns into an inning-ending play (Pearce can't handle a one-bounce throw) and Alex Gordon's broken-bat bloop lands in short right field. All three base runners score and after Schoop fails to field the relay cleanly, Gordon moves to third base, where he's stranded when Salvador Perez flies out to left field.

First Orioles run: Markakis leads off the bottom of the third with a double down the right-field line and, after moving to third on a groundout, scores on a single to left field by Jones. With the crowd anxious for a big inning for the home team, Cruz hits a foul pop behind home plate that Perez catches, and Pearce is robbed of an extra-base hit in the gap on a diving catch by Gordon in in left-center field.

First relief pitcher: Tommy Hunter comes on in place of Tillman with one out and Cain on third base after doubling to lead off the fifth. The first batter he faced is Billy Butler, who had singled twice off Tillman. Hunter retires Butler on a flyout to center that scores Cain for a 5-1 lead. Hunter gives up a single to Gordon, then promptly picks him off first to end the inning.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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