In case you missed it, the Orioles beat the Twins 3-2 in a marathon of an Opening Day at Camden Yards on Monday afternoon/evening in Charm City. Matt Wieters made the difference with a ninth inning walk-off single to score Chris Davis. Adam Jones followed with a celebratory dessert to the face of the O's backstop. Was it "pie" or was it "cake"? Who cares? (It was definitely a pie though)
Jones pie was cake, Buck said. He joked: "I've lost control of the team again."— Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) April 5, 2016
For one day at least, the Orioles are undefeated in the 2016 season and are tied for first place in the American League East. Super duper extremely small sample sizes be damned, it's time to overreact just a little and stay excited for this year's version of the Baltimore Orioles.
That left fielder is already a fan favorite...and he loves you too!
Rickard on cheers: "It’s definitely the 1st time it’ happened 2 me...Right now they love me, so I’m I happy about it. I love them." #orioles— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) April 5, 2016
There was a lot of love for Joey Rickard prior to Opening Day. Some would call it a "hype train", if you will. He led the Grapefruit League in hitting with a .397 batting average. And it was known, from what the reporters were saying, that he filled the speedy, defense-first outfield hole that the Orioles lacked. What's not to like?
Rickard did nothing but confirm all of those good things with his performance on the first day of the season, getting a hit in his first major league at-bat and going 2-for-4 in the game with a double and a run scored. The rookie got a nice round of applause as he was introduced on the orange carpet and, at one point in the game, received a "Jo-ey! Jo-ey! Jo-ey!" chant from the fans that stuck out the six-hour day at the ballpark. That had to be pretty cool.
The one blemish that some point to is the fact that he caught a long foul ball in the seventh inning that allowed Byung Ho Park to tag and tie the game at 2-2. I agree with the decision to take the out, but some may prefer to let it fall to maintain the lead. But manager Buck Showalter came to Rickard's defense following the game.
Buck said Rickard made right decision catching ball on sac fly. Rickard asked him right away #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) April 5, 2016
This guy is just flawless...for now.
The "ace" looked REALLY good...for two innings
Chris Tillman: 22 pitches, 5 strikeouts in 2 innings. A heck of an Opening Day cameo for the #Orioles.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) April 4, 2016
Chris Tillman isn't your typical Opening Day starter. Sure, he had done it the last two years, but he was bad in the 2015 season and the Orioles have the likes of Yovani Gallardo and Ubaldo Jimenez on the roster, who each would have also been understandable choices.
Well, good thing Tilly didn't buy into the haters, because he blew away the Minnesota lineup with 22 pitches. Brain Dozier led-off with a pop out (as sketchy as J.J. Hardy looked on that one), but the next five Twins all went down the same way: three strikes. Then the stupid rain ruined everything.
Of course, we don't expect this version of Tillman each time out. But the fact that he was dominant early on was nice to see as he has had issue with the first inning in the past. All I ask is for a little more of 2014 Tillman and to never, ever see the 2015 version again, OK? Is that too much to ask?
Did we learn who the fifth starter is?
Maybe, I guess. The extended rain delay forced Tillman out of the game. Showalter went with Tyler Wilson as his replacement. You don't typically use one of the members of your rotation as a long-man, so will that be Wilson's role with the club for the time being? That would mean Vance Worley would take the pill on April 10, the first time the O's are rumored to be using the last man in said rotation.
That could just as easily mean nothing. Wilson only threw three innings and did fine in that time. It would be pretty easy to see him back out there to start a game in five days. In fact, this could confirm that Wilson is the choice. The game was still tied. You want a pitcher you trust. Perhaps Showalter trusts Wilson more than Worley. I'm really just thinking out loud now. Ignore me.
The offense is exactly what we thought it would be
Where were the home runs? I was promised home runs with this team! With the likes of Chris Davis, Pedro Alvarez and Mark Trumbo, I expect at least one home run every night. There were none, and that is why they only scored three runs despite having 10 hits and five walks. They left 12 runners on base. No bueno.
The problem area of the lineup was Wieters (until the walk-off, of course), Alvarez and Hardy (5-6-7), who combined to go 1-for-11 with two walks and four strikeouts. Trumbo had a tremendous debut, in the clean-up spot in front of them, going 4-for-5, but never scored. That probably won't work most nights. WE! WANT! DONGS!
But really, it is just awesome to have baseball back. The Orioles are in the win column and look to have an exciting roster to follow this summer. Like I alluded to before, there can't be much gleaned from one game, but it doesn't mean we can't talk about it like there can be.