We had great seats at the O’s spring training game against the Twins on March 27. Of course we had low expectations about the Orioles but it was a chance to see some baseball in Sarasota. It was hot as heck in the sun and the Twins jumped out early. But as the game went on it was clear that the O’s were having trouble getting runners on. This game headed to the eighth inning when we realized that the O’s were being no-hit. And then underrated Robert Andino stepped up and hit a gapper. Of course he got greedy and didn’t stop with a double. A perfect throw nailed him trying for third.
Now on to more one-hitters. And for this story, we need to look at the career of long-time Minnesota Twins infielder Cesar Tovar. He was a lifetime .278 hitter in a 12-year career. I didn’t even know that he passed away back in 1994 at the age of 54.
Now Tovar also plays a small a role in O’s history. He not only broke up one, but two O’s no-hitters in the ninth inning in the same baseball season. The first time came on May 15, 1969 at old Metropolitan Stadium in Minnesota. The game would feature the two teams that would match up in the first ever American League playoffs.
A pair of lefties would pitch this game. It was Jim Katt for the Twins and Dave McNally for the Brids. A two-run triple off the bat of catcher Andy Etchebarren gave Baltimore a quick 2-0 in the second. In the meantime, McNally was breezing. Only two baserunners had reached heading into the ninth inning. And both of those runners reached on a base on balls.
McNally took his no-hitter to the ninth. He struck out pinch-hitter George Mitterwald to open the festivities in the night. And then Tovar singled. McNally went to 6-0 on the season with this one-hit shutout.
It’s three months later and that same Twins team with the likes of Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva is visiting Baltimore. On this Sunday, the Orioles have almost clinched the division leading the AL East by 14.5 games. The Twins are in a tougher fight in the AL West leading Oakland by 1.5 games.
Jim Perry, who would start the first AL playoff game against the O’s was a 13-game winner heading to this Sunday night contest. Mike Cuellar, a 14-game winner, would pitch for the home team. The game was scoreless until the fourth when Boog Powell went deep for the 31st time that season. Recall it was Powell who would hit a game-tying homer off Perry in that first game of the AL playoffs.
In the seventh, Ellie Hendricks played long ball with Perry and it was 2-0. And Cuellar was breezing. He headed to the ninth with his no-hitter alive. And leading off the ninth was that Cesar Tovar. And yes, Tovar broke up the no-no. Cuellar added a one-hitter to his baseball resume.