Can any current Oriole top these performances?

Quite a start to the postseason for the Baltimore Orioles.

Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy, Nick Markakis and, of course, Delmon Young are off to great starts. But will their performances go down as one of the greatest Orioles' postseason history?


Possibly, but they still have some work to do.

Here's a look at the 10 greatest postseason series performances any player from Baltimore has ever put together (at least in one man's opinion).

10. Jim Palmer, 1966 World Series; Dave McNally, 1969 ALCS; Mike Boddicker, 1983 ALCS.

A three-way tie for three amazing games. The only reason none ranks higher is that each player participated in only one game during the series. Palmer started Game 2 of the World Series against the heavily favored Los Angeles Dodgers and threw a four-hit shutout with six strikeouts to beat Sandy Koufax, coming off a 27-win season, in the final game of Koufax's Hall of Fame career. McNally's Game 2 start in the first-ever American League Championship Series, might be the best-pitched postseason game in Orioles' history. McNally pitched all 11 innings, allowing a mere three hits and striking out 11, as the Orioles beat the Minnesota Twins 1-0. Fourteen years later, Boddicker tossed a complete-game five-hitter against the Chicago White Sox in Game 2 after the Orioles had lost Game 1. He set a team postseason record with 14 strikeouts.

9. Kiko Garcia, 1979 World Series.

The Orioles lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Had they won, the usually light-hitting Garcia might've been named MVP and his performance would be far better remembered. He batted .400 in the series with two doubles, a triple and six RBIs — no other Oriole had more than three — after driving in 24 all season. He was 4 for 4 with four RBIs in Game 3 as the Orioles took a 2-1 series lead.

8. Boog Powell, 1970 ALCS.

Baltimore swept the Minnesota Twins 3-0, but the Orioles' big first baseman packed a lot of hitting into those three games. Powell batted .429 with two doubles, one home run and six RBIs, driving in at least one run in every game and finishing with two multi-hit games to help the Orioles get back to the World Series, where they would avenge their 1969 defeat.


7. B.J. Surhoff, 1996 ALDS.

With the Orioles in the playoffs for the first time during the Camden Yards era, Surhoff led them to their first postseason series win in 13 years. Against the favored Cleveland Indians, Surhoff homered twice in Game 1 and drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of Game 2 en route to a .385 batting average with a ridiculous 1.462 OPS (on-base average plus slugging percentage).

6. Scott McGregor, 1983 World Series.

McGregor pitched Game 1 and Game 5 and only the Orioles' lack of hitting in the opener kept him from getting two wins. The left-hander threw eight innings of two-run ball in the opener, won 2-1 by the Phillies. He followed that up with a five-hit shutout in Game 5, walking two and striking out six. He was still on the mound to throw the final pitch and wrap up the 4-1 series win.

5. Frank Robinson, 1966 World Series.

Robinson was wrapping up a historic first season with the Orioles, in which he was named American League MVP after winning the Triple Crown. He hit .286 with a triple and two home runs for a 1.232 OPS against the best pitching staff of the era, setting the tone for the entire series with a two-run home run in the first inning of Game 1 to help the Orioles get a win in the only game they didn't throw a shutout.


4. Mike Mussina, 1997 ALDS.

The Orioles' ace was the logical choice to start the first game of the team's first postseason series in 13 years and he didn't disappoint. Mussina went up against superstar, 20-game winner Randy Johnson twice in the series ... and beat the Big Unit twice. He finished 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA, allowing only seven hits in 14 innings while striking out 14 against the team that still holds the all-time record with 264 home runs in a season.

3. Rick Dempsey, 1983 World Series.

Known more for his abilities behind the plate than in the batter's box, Dempsey was at his best.

He earned MVP honors as the Orioles won their third and (to this point, at least) last World Series. Dempsey batted .385 with four doubles and a home run and two RBIs, for a 1.390 OPS. His RBI double in the fifth inning of Game 2 to put the Orioles ahead, after they had lost Game 1, was the biggest hit of the series.

2. Mike Mussina, 1997 ALCS.

While his 0-0 record in two game starts may not look like much, Mussina was absolutely dominant against the Cleveland Indians, one of the scariest lineups of the steroid era. He pitched 15 innings and allowed just one run, giving up four hits and four walks while striking out 25. His 15 Ks in Game 3 broke Boddicker's record. His efforts should've propelled the Orioles into the World Series, but because the they didn't score a single run while he was in either game, they ultimately lost 2-1 in 12 innings in Game 3 and 1-0 in 11 innings in Game 6.

1. Brooks Robinson, 1970 World Series.

The Hall of Fame third baseman more than made up for batting .053 in the 1969 Fall Classic, putting together one of the most legendary performances in World Series history. Robinson batted .429 with two home runs, five runs scored and six RBIs, slugging .810 with a 1.238 OPS. His home run broke a 3-3 tie to win Game 1. But it was his glove as much as his bat that cemented his legacy in this series. Robinson made several diving, lunging highlight-reel plays throughout the series to frustrate the likes of Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Lee May.

His backhand pickup and throw from well into foul territory to nail May in Game 1 remains one of the most oft-replayed defensive plays in the history of the series. He was named MVP for his performance, which helped give Earl Weaver his only World Series title.

Bob Blubaugh is the Times' sports editor. His column appears every Sunday. Reach him at 410-857-7895 or bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.