The Orioles played a game dubbed "Re-Opening Day" tonight, a fan-originated designation that picked up steam quickly. When you combine six games lost to fans during the recent unrest (two postponed, one played in front of an empty park, and three moved to Florida), Orioles fans hadn't been allowed into Camden Yards for a game since April 26th. Add in the fact that the team's original Opening Day (a total clunker of a game) came against the same Blue Jays team, and all the ingredients were in place. The folks in the warehouse rose to the occasion, too, with special uniforms just for the night, with the "Baltimore" script across the home whites.
About 20,000 fans were in attendance, a good number for a Monday night in May but a bit less than might have been expected after the long layoff and heavy promotion. They were able to make some good noise, though, and they were treated to a better matchup than the original Opening Day, with the Orioles winning 5-2 on a solid Ubaldo Jimenez start, and a trio of home runs.
The Orioles started the scoring almost immediately, and in the way they often do: with the long ball. Manny Machado hit an opposite-field leadoff home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada that barely hit the top of the right-field wall. After Delmon Young worked a nice two-out walk, Chris Davis pulled a ball to almost the exact same spot, but about twenty rows farther. It was a no-doubter the second it left his bat, and the Orioles had jumped out to a 3-0 lead early.
For quite a while, it looked like that 3-0 score would hold. Ubaldo Jimenez continued his solid start to the season, striking out the side in the first and fourth innings. He avoided damage in the second, erasing a leadoff walk with a double-play groundball. In the third, he allowed only a one-out single, on which Ryan Flaherty left the game (presumably DL-bound) with what appeared to be a re-injury of his groin.
The Orioles, for their part, tried their hardest not to blow the game open any further. Steve Pearce was gifted first base to lead off the fourth inning, on a Josh Donaldson throwing error, and then, after the Blue Jays lost a challenge of the call, immediately TOOTBLAN'd himself by trying and failing to steal second base (he even tried to repeat the trick later, nearly getting picked off second in the sixth). So, David Lough's single later in the inning was for naught. And in the sixth, as Jeff Francis relieved Estrada, the Orioles loaded the bases with just one out, on two singles and a hit by pitch, then had to settle for just a single run, on a Caleb Joseph sac fly.
Fortunately, the Jays similarly struggled to cash in a big inning. As Ubaldo Jimenez started to run out of gas, the Jays scored a quick run on two doubles by Ezequiel Carrera and Kevin Pillar in the fifth inning. Jimenez stranded a lone baserunner in the sixth, but really hit a wall in the seventh.
After a Justin Smoak groundout, Jimenez walked Chris Colabello, and that's when things got interesting. Jimenez got a tailor-made double play ball out of Pillar, but Steve Pearce, playing second following Flaherty's injury, was slow to the bag, causing Machado to double-pump the first throw. Pearce's relay throw wasn't great, either, and Pillar beat the ball to first. But the umpire initially called Pillar out, and Gibbons had already lost a challenge in the fourth, so inning over, right? Wrong.
Gibbons came out onto the field and protested, and the umpires consented to a crew chief review of the play. They got the play right in the end, but the way it happened would seem to undermine the whole idea of the challenge system. The whining was a theme, too, as the Jays hitters protested the strike zone all night long, even though the slightly inaccurate zone (low strike) was fairly consistent. Anyway, after the review, Pillar promptly stole second base and got driven in on another Carrera double (way over Jones's head). Just when it looked like the wheels were really coming off, Ryan Goins hit what looked like a surefire gapper, and Delmon Young ... got on his horse and made a backhanded catch. Just like they drew it all up. The Orioles escaped the potential big inning with a 4-2 lead.
The excitement mostly ended there, with Adam Jones giving the Orioles a 5-2 advantage on an eight-inning blast. Darren O'Day tore through the Jays in the eighth (two K's and a popup), and although Zach Britton allowed two two-out baserunners on his way to a save, all that did was set up a poetic ending to a whiny Blue Jays game, with Jose Bautista weakly grounding out on a pinch-hit appearance to put an Orioles win in the books. And so, Re-Opening Day was a more successful endeavor for the team than the original, with the club getting back to its formula of good-enough starting pitching backed up by the long ball.