A gutwrenching save

George Sherrill….what can say?

Last night’s 7-5 win over the Cubs was a rollercoaster ride. It started out as what looked like a blowout win. Luke Scott hit a two run triple, Nick Markakis drove in 2, and Brian Roberts had 3 hits (including his 1,000th career hit) as the O’s were cruising with a 7-1 lead. Jeremy Guthrie finally had some run support but then Jim Edmonds hit a 3 run homer that knocked out Guthrie in the 7th.

Then the 9th inning came around. The O’s were up by 7-5. I’m beginning to think Sherrill makes these high pressure situations happen on purpose just to see if he can get out of them. To start out the 9th, Sherrill gave up 2 hits and a walk. The bases were loaded with no outs. At this point I had a feeling of impending doom. I thought of the Oriole bullpens of years past. Of course, the pen this season has been leaps and bounds better than any pen that the O’s have had in years.

With no outs and the bases full, I was dying. Bases loaded 2 outs, you have hope for a pop-up. Bases loaded 1 out, you hold the hope for the game ending double play. Bases loaded and no outs, you cross your fingers and hold out hope for the double play and then pop-up.

I thought about Chris Ray last year in the ninth. There would be a 1 run lead, 1 man out, and 1 out and the batter would get a hit. Ray would do his little thing where he’d turn around and point to the ball. That was one thing he did that annoyed me. I think he had said it was his way of leading the outfielders know where the ball was going. He’d point and the outfielder would keep running and running and running and Ray would be point in the right field bleachers. Game over. We lose. I’m mad.

I thought about Jorge Julio. I remember him being worse than what he was. Now I’m not saying he was great…far from it. But he had a few decent years with us. After he got traded to the Mets, his career hit the fan. He had 36 saves in 2003. I thought back on the 2005 Jorge Julio. That was the year that he had a round ERA of 5.90. That was the year the myth became fact that Julio could bean a batter and the ball would go 450 ft over the fence. I had flashbacks to that last night.

I thought about Todd Williams. Todd Williams gave up a game winning RBI to Miggy Cabrera on a blotched intentional walk turned hit. That’s all I really need to say because that still sticks to me like a bad rash.

I thought about Danys Baez. He gave up 36 earned runs in 50 innings last season and was very bad. Very very very bad. He was bad.

I thought about several more bad relievers of the Oriole pen too. I thought of Brower, Shuey, Bell, and Winston Abreu.

Sherrill obviously isn’t any of these guys. He’s a better pitcher, but the situation brought about the flashbacks.

Then Sherrill faced the guy who could have been our starting shortstop, Ronnie Cedeno. Cedeno would have been in any package for Brian Roberts. Cedeno’s faring ok this season. A few pitches later, Sherrill makes him look foolish with the old high standing strike. Cedeno’s out on strikes. There’s one out but I’m not feeling much better. There were butterflies in my gut with razorblade wings.

Fukudome was up then. I was worried about this one. He’s had a good year. Based on his previous 55 pitch at bat against Jim Johnson, I was worried about a walk happening here. But my fear was foolish because BOOM Sherrill strikes Fukudome out and makes him look silly with a flailing wailing strike three. Two out, I’m feeling better, but there’s still the matter of those 3 men aboard.

But there wasn’t any reason to fear, because…Sherrill would strike out Henry Blanco.

Game over. Sherrill loaded ’em up and stuck out the side. O’s win 7-5 with Sherrill being nails at the end. Sherrill’s got 26 saves this season. I scoffed when he was announced as this season’s closer. I didn’t see it going well, but it’s worked without a hitch.

I salute you George Sherrill and your flat cap brim…and your gut wrenching 9th inning theatrics.

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