Ranking the 10 Best Moments of the 2012 Season for the Baltimore Orioles

Drew ReynoldsContributor IIIDecember 13, 2012

Ranking the 10 Best Moments of the 2012 Season for the Baltimore Orioles

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    "Orioles Magic" was in full effect in 2012, as the Baltimore Orioles had by far their most memorable season of the millennium.

    Their 29-9 record in one-run games, as well as their 16-2 record, including 16 straight wins, in extra-innings only begin to describe the dramatics the Orioles provided last year.

    With the numerous walk-offs, extremely long games, great individual performances, and team achievements, it was tough narrowing down the list to just 10. So if there are any great moments that you feel belong and are not on the list, please comment below.

    But without any further ado, here are the top 10 Oriole moments of 2012.

10. Opening Day

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    Let's start off the list with the start of the season.

    On Opening Day the O's treated the home crowd to a solid 4-2 win over the Twins, with Nick Markakis leading the way offensively.

    Markakis started off the scoring early, as a two-run homer in the first gave the Orioles a quick 2-0 advantage. A triple from Markakis in the sixth scored another run and gave the O's a 4-0 lead.

    What makes Opening Day memorable, however, is the performance of starting pitcher Jake Arrieta. There was much debate before the season started on who would be the starter on Opening Day, as the O's were without a clear "ace." Buck Showalter decided to go with Arrieta, and he was not disappointed.

    Arrieta pitched seven scoreless innings, only allowing two hits and two walks in front of a sold-out Camden Yards

9. Comeback Against the White Sox on April 16th

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    A mere ten days after Opening Day, the Orioles won their first extra-innings game of the season and they did it in impressive fashion.

    Down 4-2, Nolan Reimold hit a home run to lead off the ninth to cut the deficit down to one. Then, with two outs, Adam Jones' solo homer tied the game and sent the game to extras.

    It didn't take the O's long to take control in extras, as they scored six runs in the top of the 10th, topped off by a Matt Wieters grand-slam.

    The 10-4 win gave the O's a 6-4 record and was a sign of things to come.

8. Welcome to the Team Taylor Teagarden

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    Taylor Teagarden didn't have many hits in his first season as an Oriole, as he missed the first half of the season injured, and only finished with a .158 average.

    However, all his hits seemed to be noteworthy, including his first.

    On July 14th, the Orioles were at home against the Tigers to play their second game after the All-Star break. Forced into the game when Matt Wieters was pinch-run for in the 10th inning, Teagarden struck out swinging in his first at-bat of the season in the 11th.

    In the 13th, the Tigers took a one-run lead.

    JJ Hardy's solo shot in the bottom of the inning tied the game, 6-6. After Adam Jones was hit by a pitch, Taylor Teagarden came to the plate.

    With two outs and two strikes, Teagarden sent a line-shot to right field, barely clearing the fence next to the right field scoreboard.

    After a rocky end to the first half of the season, this 8-6 win helped the O's get back on track.

7. The Late Night/Early Morning in Seattle

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    The Orioles played many long games last season. Innings-wise, this game on September 18 in Seattle was the longest.

    The 18-inning bullpen battle didn't end until nearly 4 a.m. on the east coast, with the Orioles coming out on top, 4-2.

    When Chris Davis tied the game up with a two-run single in the top of the ninth, few could foresee how long this game would actually go.

    Both bullpens pitched near perfect, as the O's bullpen went 12.2 scoreless innings.

    Not much happened until the top of the 18th, when Taylor Teagarden's single drove in Nate McLouth to give the O's the lead.

    The game will especially be remembered by the fans at home in Baltimore who stayed up nearly all night to watch their team pull off a meaningful victory late in the season.

6. Manny Machado's Call-Up and First Two Games

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    Manny Machado's call-up on August 9th came as a pleasant surprise to O's fans, as the 20-year-old hadn't even reached Triple-A yet.

    After going 2-4 in his first game, including hitting a triple for his first major league hit, Manny's second game was even more memorable. Machado hit his first major league home run in the fifth inning and followed that up his next at-bat by hitting another homer to virtually the same spot.

    The O's went on to win the game 7-1.

    After Machado's call-up, the Orioles went on a 33-18 run to finish the season. Looking back on it, the decision to call up Machado may have been the move of the season for the Orioles.

5. Machado's Walkoff Against Tampa

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    This crucial win on September 13th completed a sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays and assured the Orioles a non-losing season, as it was their 81st win.

    Once again, the Orioles bullpen pitched superbly, going 6.2 scoreless innings in front of their home crowd.

    This game was nearly a disaster for the O's though, as they loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the 13th, only to come up empty.

    However, after two quick outs in the bottom of the 14th, Adam Jones walked and Endy Chavez walked to give Manny Machado a chance with a runner on second.

    A soft flair to left from the rookie landed safely for a single to give the O's the 3-2 win.

4. The Pump-Fake Game

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    The day before his walk-off against the Rays, Machado made one of the most memorable defensive plays of the decade for the Orioles.

    In the top of the 9th of the 2-2 game, with a man on second, Evan Longoria hit a soft ground ball to third. Thinking quickly, Machado realized he wouldn't be able to throw out Longoria at first. So, he pump-faked, saw the runner off third and forced him into a run-down where he was tagged out.

    After his brilliance in the field, Machado led off the bottom of the inning with a single. A sac bunt later, Nate McLouth was up with the opportunity to win the game, and he didn't disappoint.

    His line-drive single hit the foul line on the Camden Yards right field scoreboard to bring in Machado for the 3-2 Orioles win.

3. ALDS Game 1

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    For the first time in 15 years, Camden Yards hosted a playoff game.

    The fans had to endure a two-hour and 41-minute rain delay and the O's ended up losing the game, but to see Camden Yards at full capacity, with an atmosphere that made it seem like a Ravens game, was an incredible sight.

    The fact that the Orioles finally had a winning season is one thing, but to actually make the the playoffs and be able to go to the Yard to see a game of this magnitude is something a large number of young fans had never been able to experience.

2. Chris Davis' Pitching Debut

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    On May 6th, the Orioles took on the Red Sox and were looking for their first series sweep in Fenway since 1994. What ensued was one of the most interesting and entertaining games of the season.

    The six-hour and seven-minute, 17-inning game started out well for the O's, as JJ Hardy hit a homer in the first. After another Hardy solo homer and an Andino three-run shot, the Orioles took a 5-0 lead.

    The game was turned on its head after a Will Middlebrooks grand slam in the fifth tied the game at five.

    The teams got a run apiece in the eighth, after which the bullpens took the game over. It wasn't until the bottom of the 16th when something special happened.

    After exhausting the bullpen, Buck Showalter decided to put DH Chris Davis in to pitch. Surprisingly, the slugger pitched much better than he hit, as he struck out the first batter he faced, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Next, Middlebrooks flew out. An error put a runner on first for Mike Aviles. The shortstop lined a shot which hit the Green Monster and it looked as if it would end the game. However, a tremendous relay got the runner out at home.

    In the top of the next inning, the Sox decided to pitch outfielder Darnell McDonald. He did not fair as well as Davis, as Adam Jones hit a three-run homer to give the O's a 9-6 lead.

    Davis came out again in the 17th to finish off the game. After an infield single and a walk, Davis struck out one of best hitters in baseball in Adrian Gonzalez. Up next was McDonald, who grounded into a double play to end the game and give Davis his first career victory as a pitcher.

    Davis' stat-line was an entertaining and historical one; Pitching: 2IP, 0R, 2H, 1BB, 2Ks; Hitting: 0-8, 5Ks.

1. AL Wild Card Game

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    The defeat of the Texas Rangers in last year's AL Wild Card game may have been the Orioles' greatest victory since Game 5 of the 1983 World Series and it capped off the Orioles' greatest season in recent memory.

    The 5-1 win may not have been the most dramatic of victories statistically, but the importance of the game alone made it dramatic and the win alone is enough to make this the top moment of last year.

    Every pitch and every at-bat mattered. I honestly have never been so tense watching an Orioles game.

    To see the Orioles come out victorious and to see the celebration ensue was a dream come true for O's fans.