BALTIMORE -- At 3:03 p.m. ET on Sunday, Adam Jones emerged, running out of the home dugout at Camden Yards full speed -- like he has for the past 11 years -- and headed toward center field. It was only when he approached second base that he realized he was
BALTIMORE -- At 3:03 p.m. ET on Sunday, Adam Jones emerged, running out of the home dugout at Camden Yards full speed -- like he has for the past 11 years -- and headed toward center field. It was only when he approached second base that he realized he was all alone. With his walk-up music blaring and fans on their feet, Jones spun around and faced the crowd, relishing the moment. Teammates hovered, the umpire crew doffed their caps and even the Astros' dugout joined in the applause as the 33-year-old, the face of the franchise and the O's return to prominence, got his salute.
The ovations, of course, didn't stop there. Every time Jones strode to the plate in the Orioles' season-ending 4-0 win over the Astros, it was a moment that stood still. Astros starter Charlie Morton gave Jones his own tribute, staying off the mound for several minutes in the first inning as the veteran dug in to an eruption that only ended when the first pitch landed in Houston catcher Max Stassi's glove.
"A lot of people talk about putting on a moment," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who was visibly choked up talking about Jones. "Some of them are put together by good music and things that create some environment. Here in Baltimore, it's put on by people, by the emotion and the deep love they have for Adam."
A free agent at season's end, Jones played one inning in center field before moving to right and went hitless in four at-bats. He was replaced in the top of the ninth to the loudest roar of the day. The typically stoic veteran tipped his cap to the crowd several times -- each causing the crowd noise to tick up a decibel -- hugging replacement Joey Rickard and Astros first-base coach Alex Cintron on his way to a line of teammates and coaches awaiting an embrace.
"Lot of years here, lot of games, lot of blood, sweat and tears," Jones said. "I greatly appreciate it from the fans' standpoint, my teammates for sending me out there on the island all by myself [to start the game]. Buck for letting me get an inning in center field, where I started. It's been a cool weekend. Very appreciative and humbled that people care."
Indeed, it is the end of an era in Baltimore baseball -- one that could also include the end of Showalter's tenure -- and it was a welcome respite in the long, emotionally charged season that the O's wrapped it up with a win.
"That was some hard timing," Showalter said of giving Jones a proper sendoff. "Had to tell all the eight guys not to go out with him, to make sure Joey knew when to go out, and I had to tell the umpires. It's about doing what's right for Adam. OK, and really for Baltimore. So it was pretty easy."
Jones -- the heartbeat of past winning clubs and a consummate teammate -- was honored as Most Valuable Oriole prior to the game and was picked up on offense by his teammates. Baltimore held Houston to one hit and scored four runs in the fourth to record its first win over the Astros this season and end 2018 with a 47-115 record.
"To be a part of it was pretty special," said Orioles starter Jimmy Yacabonis, who pitched four scoreless innings, of watching Jones' farewell.
Showalter -- who, like Jones, has an expiring contract -- was harder to pay tribute to. He came out of the dugout once, to contest a hit-by-pitch in the third inning, and the fans got to their feet to try to give him an ovation before he quickly ducked back to the bench.
Asked if he noticed the crowd, Showalter blinked back tears and said, "What do you think?"
What did it mean to the O's skipper, who brought back respect and helped turn the tide that saw three postseason trips in five years?
"I'm not going to go there," Showalter said. "Thanks. You know how much it means to me."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Orioles used RBI doubles from Timothy Beckham and Renato Nunez to build on the lead with Trey Mancini's single getting the scoring going. DJ Stewart capped the rally by stealing second base, then scoring on a throwing error by Stassi.
It was all Baltimore would need, as the pitching staff combined on a one-hitter to keep Houston off the scoreboard.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
"Thank you Cap10!" signs floated around Camden Yards for Jones on Sunday. The outfielder spent time before the game taking a lap around the ballpark and handing out balls and bats to fans as tokens of appreciation.
"Well, I got too much stuff in here, didn't want to take it with me," Jones said. "Might as well give some people some balls."
HE SAID IT
"I'm going into this really excited, because I've never been flirted with. So I want to see who I can flirt with." -- Jones, on hitting free agency for the first time
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.