ORIOLES - NATIONALS DEJA VU
Things haven't changed.
Well, yes, actually they have. The Orioles began that evening with a 51-19 record, by far the best in the major leagues. They enter tomorrow night's game with a 33-40 mark, only a game-and-a-half ahead of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Even more amazing, the Orioles, winners of the World Series just two seasons earlier, drew less than 8,000 fans to old Memorial Stadium that night. So much for any "Battle of the Beltway" during the Nixon administration.
All-star Dave McNally pitched for the Orioles that night. Casey Cox took the ball for the Senators. McNally was by far one of the top three pitchers in the American League that year, and Cox was just beginning his first full year with Washington. It was a scoreless game until the 4th, when Sudden Sam Bowen singled, plating Hank Allen (Dick Allen's brother) and Frank Howard. The Orioles tied the game in the 7th when Curt Motton hit a pinch-hit single, scoring Mark Belanger and Andy Etchebarren. The Birds blew the game open in the 8th when two current members of the Nationals staff, Frank Robinson and Davey Johnson, homered off of the best reliever in the league that year, lefty Darold Knowles. The Senators scored one final run in the 9th on a Ken McMullen single off of Jim Palmer, who entered the game in the 8th inning (Jim Palmer, a hall-of-famer, was still trying to return from an arm injury that side-lined him for most of the 1968 season). Ultimately, Orioles' closer Pete Richert came in and shut the door on Washington. Richert, who was traded by the Senators to Baltimore for Mike Epstein in 1967, wasn't particularly flashy, but certainly got the job done when Earl Weaver put the ball in his hands.
It'll be interesting to see if history repeats itself within the game itself. I think we'll be safe unless we see Jim Palmer jogging in from the bullpen.