Even those who didn’t know Mike Flanagan couldn’t help but feel the emotion that swept through Camden Yards on Friday night.
The Baltimore Orioles celebrated the life of their former pitcher before and during their 12-5 win over the New York Yankees.
Afterward, it was evident that the victory would have been far sweeter under different circumstances.
”I don’t know, winning, losing, with some of the things going on,” manager Buck Showalter said. ”But I know Mike would have certainly liked it. I can tell you that.”
It was Baltimore’s first home game since Flanagan took his own life Wednesday. Moments before the first pitch, there was a moment of silence in honor of the 1979 Cy Young winner, who died at age 59 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Flanagan’s No. 46 was displayed on the right field scoreboard from batting practice to the end of the game. For the rest of the season, the Orioles will wear a black circular patch on their right jersey sleeves with the word ”FLANNY” written in white.
Tommy Hunter (3-2) allowed four runs and seven hits over seven innings. Hunter came to the Orioles in July in a trade with Texas and was unfamiliar with Flanagan’s legacy in Baltimore, but over the past few days he’s come to appreciate what Flanagan meant to this franchise.
”He touched a lot of people. That’s very evident from the way it’s been going around,” Hunter said. ”Guys loved him. It’s one of those things where you wish you got to know a guy like that a little better.”
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who hit a three-run homer, said, ”Any time you get a tribute like that, and a moment of silence before the game starts, it’s a little bit extra added emotions of the game for sure. It was a big game to win.”
Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy homered in a six-run second inning against A.J. Burnett to help the Orioles secure their fifth straight victory, matching a season high.
Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher homered for the Yankees, who tied a season high with four errors. Rodriguez’s homer was his first since June 11 and ended a single-season career long drought of 96 at-bats without a long ball.
Not only did Burnett (9-11) yield nine runs and nine hits in five innings, but he also threw three wild pitches in his second straight horrid performance.
”I’m frustrated,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ”Part of my job is to remember it’s a person out there struggling. It’s not just an employee of the New York Yankees. It hurts me to see someone struggling. We’ve got to try and fix it.”
Playing in front of a crowd of 32,762 that included thousands of Yankees fans, Baltimore put on a performance reminiscent of the days when Flanagan and the Orioles were feared by the rest of the American League.
Baltimore got six hits and batted around in the second inning. Reynolds hit his 30th home run with one out before the Orioles rattled off four straight doubles, including one by Matt Angle, who collected his first major league RBI. Hardy capped the uprising with his 25th homer, a two-run drive to left.
A walk, two wild pitches and a run-scoring grounder by Hardy made it 7-0 in the fourth. After Posada homered in the fifth, Nolan Reimold answered with a two-run triple in the bottom half.
Burnett did not come out to pitch the sixth. In his previous outing, he cursed as he left the mound in the second inning of a 9-4 loss to Minnesota. The right-hander has given up 16 runs in his last two starts.
”It’s not acceptable,” Burnett said. ”But the bottom line is that I can’t worry about my numbers right now. I’ve got to get on a good track. I’ve got a lot of support in this room, and that’s probably the thing that bothers me most. You feel like you’re letting guys down a bit.”
Wieters homered off Luis Ayala in the sixth after a two-out error by second baseman Robinson Cano.
Rodriguez homered leading off the seventh, Cano singled to extend his hitting streak to 17 games, and Swisher went deep to make it 12-4. But unlike one day earlier, when New York made up a six-run deficit to beat Oakland, there would be no comeback this time.
Notes: New York has lost four of six. … Saturday’s split-doubleheader has been postponed because of the expected bad weather associated with Hurricane Irene. The afternoon game will be held on Sept. 8, previously an off day for both teams, and the night game will be part of a day-night doubleheader Sunday. … Hardy’s homer ended an 0-for-29 drought against New York this season. … Swisher’s homer was the 57th in the 20-year history of Camden Yards to land on Eutaw Street beyond the right-field scoreboard.