There weren't many things the Baltimore Orioles did better than other teams this season; however, walk-off wins did become something of a specialty at Camden Yards in 2010. The O's enjoyed a dozen walk-offs, half of which came during Buck Showalter's tenure. Orioles Magic indeed.
The Birds walked-off against both the Red Sox (three times) and the Yankees. They pinned a loss on Jonathan Papelbon and a blown save on Mariano Rivera. They won on bunts, singles, doubles, a botched fielders' choice, and a home run.
Five Orioles had two walk-off hits in 2010: Adam Jones, Julio Lugo, Nick Markakis, and Ty Wiggington. Meanwhile, Cesar Izturis, Brian Roberts, Luke Scott, and Miguel Tejada rounded out the delightful dozen.
Markakis was in the walk-off mix most often, either as a hitter or as the winning run. And Ty Wiggington has to take the crown as best walk-off hitter of 2010 given that he beat both the Red Sox and the Yankees with his last-inning heroics.
But that still leaves this question: Which was the Orioles' best walk-off win of the 2010 season?
Here's the full list (in alphabetical order by player's last name) -
Cesar Izturis - Aug. 5, 2010, Orioles 5 - Angels 4
A one-out Izturis single off Francisco Rodriguez scores Julio Lugo, who pinch ran for Matt Wieters after the catcher led off the ninth inning with a double.
Adam Jones (1) - Aug. 6, 2010, Orioles 2 - White Sox 1
A two-out Adam Jones single plates Nick Markakis in the 10th inning. Neither team had scored since the top of the third inning. A Luke Scott single moved Markakis from first to third to set up Jones' game winner. It is the first and only time all season that the Orioles will win two consecutive games in walk-off fashion, demonstrating right from the start that these would indeed be different times under new manager Buck Showalter.
Adam Jones (2) - Aug. 16, 2010, Orioles 5 - Mariners 4
The bunt heard round the world. Okay, the bunt heard round Baltimore. Okay, okay, the bunt heard round Baltimore by those fans who hadn't already tuned out the Orioles in favor of Ravens training camp. Still, it was awesome.
After matching the Mariners in the 10th inning, the Orioles pulled out the victory in the 11th when Adam Jones laid down a two-out bunt to score Nick Markakis from third base. Markakis doubled leading off the 11th inning and advanced to third base on a Ty Wiggington groundout.
Julio Lugo (1) - June 25, 2010, Orioles 7 - Nationals 6
The Orioles trailed 6-0 after three innings and still faced a three-run deficit headed into the bottom of the eighth inning, when the Orioles tied it. Cristian Guzman's throwing error while trying to turn two on a Julio Lugo grounder in the ninth gave the Orioles the win. Guzman's errant throw was the Nationals' fourth error of the day. Washington gave away the first game in what would turn out to be a three-game sweep.
Julio Lugo (2) - July 20, 2010, Orioles 11 - Rays 10
A Scott Moore sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 12th inning ensured that the Orioles wouldn't go home extra-innings losers. A Julio Lugo single to right in the bottom of the 13th ensured that the Orioles went home extra-innings winners.
Nick Markakis (1) - May 18, 2010, Orioles 4 - Royals 3
Nick Markakis' bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 10th sent Orioles fans home happy and gave Alfredo Simon his first major league win.
Nick Markakis (2) - June 6, 2010, Orioles 4 - Red Sox 3
Another single to center field, another extra-innings, walk-off victory - this one in 11.
Brian Roberts - Aug. 9, 2010, Orioles 3 - White Sox 2
Brian Roberts' first home run of the 2010 season wound up being the Orioles' only walk-off home run of the season. Roberts went deep in the bottom of the 10th inning off J.J. Putz. Alfredo Simon blew his fourth save of the season in the top of the ninth inning after allowing a leadoff home run to Paul Konerko.
Luke Scott (1) - Sept. 13, 2010, Orioles 4 - Blue Jays 3
Luke Scott doesn't just hit doubles and home runs. Scott's 11th inning single scores Nick Markakis, who reached base on a line-drive single and advanced on an infield groundout. Orioles win. Orioles win.
Miguel Tejada (1) - April 30, 2010, Orioles 5 - Red Sox 4
Miguel Tejada follows up a game-tying, eighth-inning homer off hotshot Red Sox prospect - and likely successor to closer Jonathan Papelbon - Daniel Bard with a 10th inning single to score Adam Jones and secure the first win of the three-game series for the Birds. The win ends the Orioles' seven-game losing streak to the Red Sox at Camden Yards and sets up the first non-losing season series against Boston since 2004.
Ty Wiggington (1) - May 2, 2010, Orioles 3 - Red Sox 2
How sweep it is. The Orioles finish off an unlikely early-season sweep of the Red Sox when Ty Wiggington doubles home Nick Markakis in the bottom of the 10th inning for the team's second walk-off win of the three-game set.
Wiggington, one of the team's lone bright spots during a dismal start to the season, is on his way to his first All-Star selection. Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, meanwhile, takes the second of his career-high seven losses in 2010. Papelbon also had a career-high eight blown saves.
Ty Wiggington (2) - Sept. 19, 2010, Orioles 4 - Yankees 3
Ty Wiggington deserves some kind of award for beating the Red Sox and the Yankees in the same season in walk-off fashion. Luke Scott provided the ninth-inning heroics in this one with a home run off Mariano Rivera to tie the score at three. Scott then led off the 11th inning with a double to left field, and Wiggington finished the job with a line-drive single.
So which was the best walk-off win of the 2010 season?
The way I see it (and I saw it in person), the Orioles saved the best for last. The Sept. 19th win against the Yankees was the Birds' best walk-off of 2010.
Consider that it featured the following improbable twists and turns:
-Longtime Orioles killer Andy Pettitte had just returned from the disabled list but was up to the same old tricks. Pettitte allowed one run in six innings, and the lethargic Orioles looked to be on their way to getting swept at home in their final series against New York.
-Mariano Rivera entered to close the door in the ninth inning and received a standing ovation from the large Yankees contingent at Camden Yards. The only thing missing was "Enter Sandman." Oh, and the actual save thanks to Luke Scott.
-And then there was the Mike Gonzalez Houdini act in the 11th inning. Gonzalez straight-jacketed himself with a leadoff walk and errant pick-off throw that put a runner on third with no outs. He then escaped unscathed with a strikeout and double play. Back-to-back intentional walks in between were the key.
Add in the fact that the Yankees were in the thick of the division race with the Rays while the Orioles were just trying to avoid 100 losses, and you've got yourself the best walk-off win of the 2010 season.