Walk-off victories bookend the Orioles’ homestand this week, which starts with a 5-4 win over Kansas City — a game in which they are no-hit for seven innings by the Royals’ Gaylord Perry before exploding.
Lenn Sakata’s game-winning single caps a three-run ninth. Next, it’s Cal Ripken Jr.’s turn to knock in the deciding run in the eighth inning of a 3-1 win over Kansas City.
Rookie Mike Boddicker then stops the Royals, 6-1, in 103-degree heat for his 10th victory and the Orioles’ fourth straight. Two losses follow before Baltimore pulls off its seminal win of the season, 7-4, over the Toronto Blue Jays. In a bizarre 10th inning in which Sakata, an infielder, is forced to catch, reliever Tippy Martinez retires the side by picking two Blue Jays runners off first base after a third is caught stealing. Then the light-hitting Sakata — who else? — hits a three-run home run to win it. The announced crowd of 25,882 goes nuts.
“It’s like a Fantasy Island,” Martinez says afterward. A day later, the Orioles rally again, defeating Toronto, 2-1, in 10 innings on a two-run double by Dan Ford. The third walk-off win in seven games caps a stellar week for Martinez (three victories and a save) and keeps the team (71-52) a half-game back of the Milwaukee Brewers in the American League East. For now.