Friday, August 20, 2010

Flashback Friday: Melvin Mora's two-out, walk-off bunt single

Adam Jones' two-out bunt single against the Mariners in the bottom of the 11th inning on Monday night had MASN broadcaster Jim Hunter - and likely many fans watching at home - enthusing about the play. Hunter stated mutliple times that Jones may start a trend of walk-off bunts. Actually, Jones was only continuing a trend.

Earlier this season Howie Kendrick's ninth inning, two-out bunt single earned the Angels a 4-3 victory over the Indians and none-too-appreciative pitcher Chris Perez who said: "It was a bad baseball play that happened to work out ... I don't want to say it was bush league, but you never see that ... a stupid play that just happened to work."

Kendrick got the green light from Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke, younger brother of former Oriole Gary Roenicke, who was filling in for Mike Scioscia. You can see Kendrick's bunt single to second base here.

Meanwhile, the most recent two-out, walk-off bunt in extra innings came from Melvin Mora. Mora's bases-loaded bunt single in the bottom of the 10th inning on Sept. 28, 2007, gave the Orioles a 10-9 victory over the Yankees.

You can see Mora's effort (featuring post-game fireworks!) here.

Monday night's game-ending rally started with a lead-off double by Nick Markakis. Back in 2007, Tike Redman - yes, Tike Redman - hit a one-out double and moved to third on a passed ball. Intentional walks to Markakis and Miguel Tejada put Kevin Millar in a position to "Cowboy Up" for the O's. Instead, he struck out looking and left Mora to be the hero.

Mora bunted toward Wilson Betemit at third, reached base without a throw, and continued running down the first-base line. Dan Connolly noted in his game story that Mora "nearly ran to Eutaw Street in celebration."

"In my career, what I've had success on is bunting for base hits," Mora said afterward. "When I saw the third baseman way back, I just made my mind up before everything was going to happen. We just want one. We didn't need a grand slam."

The Orioles' collective 10-run, 20-hit effort against the Yankees left fans with plenty of reason to celebrate despite the Birds' 69-91 record at the time.

-The O's throttled former teammate Mike Mussina for 11 hits and six runs in five innings. (I admittedly continued to appreciate Mussina even after he went to New York. See the 2006 Roar from 34 post "Moose Was a Great Bird.")

-Oriole Magic was in full effect even before Mora's hit, and it just so happened against one of the greatest closers in baseball history. Mariano Rivera suffered a blown save after the Birds scored three runs on three hits against him in the ninth inning. The Orioles caused Rivera's only two blown saves after April 20th during the 2007 season.

-With the win the Orioles denied the Yankees their 10th consecutive A.L. East title. The division title instead went to the Red Sox, who watched the game from their clubhouse at Fenway following a 5-2 victory over the Twins. Prior to Mora's walk-off Red Sox infielder Alex Cora called out "He's going to bunt."

Mora's 2007 effort wouldn't have been possible were it not for the clutch hitting of former Red Sox player Jay Payton, whose bases-loaded triple against Rivera tied the game an inning earlier. According to the Boston Herald, many Red Sox players were as surprised as Orioles fans, yelling "Holy S----."

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Baltimore Orioles

A version of this story appeared on Camden Chat on Thursday.