As he turned and watched the ball fly out toward right-center field, Chris Dickerson had no doubt he'd just hit his first career walk-off home run.
It was a three-run blast to give the Orioles a 7-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers before an announced sellout crowd of 46,249 and complete a comeback against Tigers closer Jose Valverde on Friday night.
"This team continues to be resilient, does it week after week," Dickerson said. "It's incredible, the at-bats, the effort that everyone puts out every night. It's truly been an incredible experience to be a part of this team and watch this team claw back in these situations."
Dickerson was making his first appearance for the Orioles since Monday's win at the Washington Nationals and his first start since May 23 at the Toronto Blue Jays. Dickerson's left wrist had been bothering him, and he was a candidate for the 15-day disabled list last week.
But despite his absence from the lineup, manager Buck Showalter said Dickerson got work in during extra batting practice and in simulated games to stay fresh for when he came back like he did Friday.
"I told them the other day, I'm not going to let them sit around too long," Showalter said.
Dickerson, like many of the Orioles, was stymied by Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer for the majority of the game. When he came up to the plate against Valverde with two on and two out in the ninth, he was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
He knew, though, that the Orioles had made late-inning heroics a habit this season. The Orioles erased a four-run deficit against Washington on Wednesday night for a 9-6 win, and they entered the ninth in Friday night's game down, 5-3.
Right fielder Nick Markakis led off the inning with a home run, and then center fielder Adam Jones and first baseman Chris Davis hit back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with no outs. After catcher Matt Wieters and shortstop J.J. Hardy couldn't tie the game, it was up to Dickerson.
"That was kind of the thing," Dickerson said of Markakis' home run. "If I was on the other team and I knew our team, I would have been like, 'Here we go again.' That's what I was saying to myself: Here we go."
Dickerson didn't make the Orioles out of spring training and started the year with Triple-A Norfolk. He was called up April 10 and debuted for the team that night as a pinch runner.
Since then, he's been a bench contributor, appearing in 20 games and making 11 starts. He's hitting .313 with four home runs and 11 RBIs.
"He's been having some good at-bats," Jones said. "He filled in for me in center field. He's a reliable bat. He's been around the game for some years, so the experience is there. Big spot for him. ... He got a good pitch to hit, and he crushed that ball."