Welcome to the 2017 MLB season, Camden Chatters! The Orioles kicked off the year with quite the game against the Blue Jays on Opening Day at Camden Yards with Kevin Gausman toeing the rubber for the first game of the year.
With that said, let's dive into the great winning details for your undefeated Baltimore Orioles!
After a scoreless first inning from Gausman, the Orioles offense would have an early opportunity to strike against Marco Estrada. However, the "all or nothing" nature of the team's lineup struck early. After an Adam Jones double and a Manny Machado walk, Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo failed to plate the game's first run. They grounded out and flied out respectively, sending the game to the second scoreless. (Hey, at least there weren't any strikeouts. Baby steps...)
In the bottom of the second, Welington Castillo caught a bit of luck to kick off the half inning. His first OPACY at-bat looked to be a high pop-out to center, but Ezequiel Carrera and Kevin Pillar couldn't communicate whatsoever to reel in the easy out. Castillo rolled into second with a "double", setting up what appeared to be the first potential run of the afternoon.
However, the opportunity would be squandered by three consecutive ground-ball outs by the lower third of the lineup. Through the first two innings of the year, the O's stranded three runners, all in scoring position.
Gausman worked nicely through the offense's disappointments, flashing Opening Day-caliber stuff. The Jays managed a pair of weak singles in the second a walk in the third, but Gausman settled down when it counted to put early donuts on the scoreboard.
In the bottom of the third, Seth Smith cracked a hard-hit double over Pillar in center to, again, give the Orioles an opportunity with runners in scoring position. This time the opportunity would be cashed in, but in a very strange way.
Chris Davis stepped up to the dish with runners on first and second and lashed an off-speed pitch to right field. It took a strange ricochet to Jose Bautista, who corralled the ball and caught Davis attempting to advance, but not before Smith would score the first run of the game. The next AB belonged to Trumbo, who laced yet another Orioles double to right field to capture his first RBI of the year.
Just like that, it was a 2-0 Birds lead through three innings in which the team notched four doubles. Cheers to scoring runs without the use of the long ball!
Gausman responded with a five-pitch 1-2-3 fourth inning, but the biggest test of the day emerged in the fifth. After a walk to Pillar and a single by the nine-hole hitter Carrera, the Toronto lineup flipped to the top with a golden opportunity to chop away at the Orioles lead. The bases would end up being loaded with just one out, but Gausman was able to minimize the potential damage with a pair of tough-fought victories.
After Bautista popped out on a 2-0 fastball out of the zone, new Blue Jay Kendrys Morales walked on a 3-2 count to put Toronto on the board. The pressure was turned up to the maximum level when Troy Tulowitzki walked up to the dish (and worked another 3-2 count), but a ground ball to Manny Machado ended the threat. Major crisis averted, lead in tact.
In the sixth, after notching an out and allowing a single in the sixth, Gausman exited the game with a 2-1 lead and the chance to pick up the win. However, Mychal Givens would end up being the owner of the bullpen's first misstep of the year after falling behind Carrera and allowing a hard-hit double down the right-field line. Givens would get out of the inning, but not before Gausman was given the no-decision and the game was tied.
This win wouldn't come with ease, perhaps fitting to kick off a Baltimore Orioles season.
The offense went quiet throughout the ensuing innings, unable to notch a hit in innings four through seven. Luckily, according to the script, the bullpen handled business. Givens worked a scoreless seventh with a pair of strikeouts, and Brad Brach (the most nationally-underrated pitcher in the game, might I add) pitched an eventful, but scoreless eighth.
Machado singled with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to break the hitless streak, but a Davis F-7 ended the mini-threat, sending the game to the ninth.
And guess what happened next?
Zach Britton entered the game. The tie game. Against the Blue Jays. It's amazing how ironic the game of baseball can be.
Number 53 wasn't perfect in his first inning of the year, but as per usual, the sinker got the job done. The Jays hit a pair of singles, but they were sandwiched between a strikeout of Darwin Barney and a Jose Bautista GIDP. As you can imagine, the latter was greeted with quite the applause from the Camden Yards faithful. With Britton's season ERA still set at 0.00, the game was sent to the bottom of the ninth, opening the door for an Opening Day edition of Orioles magic.
Unfortunately, Bautista got a bit of revenge against the Orioles, namely Joey Rickard. With one out following a Castillo single, Rickard went with an outside fastball and laced it to right field toward Bautista. When it looked like Rickard would potentially be the hero of the afternoon, Baltimore's least favorite Blue Jay made a diving grab to his glove side and doubled off Castillo.
It was a heck of a play, but the joke was on Bautista. He provided Orioles fans in attendance with free Baltimore baseball and another inning of Britton brilliance. The best closer in the game worked out of a jam (courtesy of a walk and single) in the 10th, again setting up a walk-off opportunity... that wouldn't be converted.
Trey Mancini cracked a pinch-hit two-out single up the middle, but no runs were scored and the 11th inning was ready to be played.
Tyler Wilson entered and worked a scoreless 11th with the help of another unbelievable Machado play at third. Manny, whose contract expires pretty soon if you haven't heard, dove toward the line and threw a laser beam to Davis at third while falling backwards. You know the drill: turn on MLB Network tonight. It'll be played over and over.
As the Opening Day marathon continued on, Mark Trumbo was ready to go home. Jason Grilli was the pitcher, and with two outs, Trumbo was the hero Baltimore was looking for.
Grilli tossed a slider that caught every bit of the plate, perfect placement for Trumbo's first HR of the season. He launched it over the wall in left field, giving the Orioles a 3-2 win.
How about that for the season opener?
Anyone else ready for 161 more?
- Britton went two full innings just once in 2016. It wasn't a perfect day, but he worked two scoreless nonetheless.
- Castillo caught a perfectly fine game behind the dish and collected two hits (albeit the double coming via a Toronto misplay). He appears primed to have a nice season as the team's number one catcher.
- Tyler Wilson, the winning pitcher, had a rough spring with a 5.30 ERA over several difficult outings. Now, he's the first winner of the year.