Nick Markakis stood perched, ready for takeoff atop the third base dugout railing Friday night in Texas .
And when Nate McLouth made the game-ending catch in left field to clinch the American League Wildcard showdown for the Orioles, Markakis leapt with joy.
Markakis was in a hoodie, sitting out with a broken thumb, watching from the top step of the dugout as the most visible cheerleader in the ballpark.
Under his watch, the Orioles reached one goal Friday—earning a home postseason game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. That will happen on Sunday.
But one goal remains, manager Buck Showalter said—staying active in the postseason long enough for Markakis, now a veteran leader in the clubhouse, to take part in the magical ride.
Markakis' thumb was shattered last month on an up-and-in fastball from Yankees lefty C.C. Sabathia—who could start Sunday's series-opener in Baltimore.
While the Orioles' season has been defined by the late-comers, such as Friday's stars (Joe Saunders, Manny Machado and Nate McLouth), the story of Markakis and second baseman Brian Roberts is also a portion of the bigger story.
Both players have spent their entire careers in Baltimore, neither experiencing a playoff game.
Roberts—out with a torn labrum in his hip—will not return. Markakis could possibly return if the Orioles reach the World Series.
He may not be in the leadoff spot at the moment, but Markakis is still one of the main men helping steer this wild ride.
Good teams will find something or someone to rally around in key moments. It seems that Markakis is one of those rallying points for this Orioles team.
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