The Orioles sure seem to win a lot on Opening Day, don’t they? Well they did it again on Thursday. For the eighth consecutive season, the O’s won on Opening Day and for the third year in a row they did so in walk-off fashion. Adam Jones sent the Birds home as winners with an 11th-inning solo home run to left field off of Fernando Rodney, giving the good guys a 3-2 victory at Camden Yards.
Pie status: Adam Jones HAS BEEN PIED. Looked like double shaving cream delivered by Schoop and Machado.— Camden Chat (@CamdenChat) March 29, 2018
The game moved briskly through the first six innings as both starting pitchers made relatively easy work of the opposing offenses. New Minnesotan Jake Odorizzi had an impressive debut for last year’s wild card team. The righty threw six scoreless innings while only allowing two hits, two walks and striking out six. Dylan Bundy was just as good for the O’s in his first Opening Day start: seven scoreless frames, one walk, five hits and seven strikeouts.
Baltimore came semi-close to scoring in the first inning. Manny Machado doubled to right field with one out, but Jonathan Schoop and Jones followed with back-to-back strikeouts. From there, Odorizzi had a pretty easy outing.
The visitors got a man to second base just once against Bundy, and they never went past that point. However, a long fly ball off the bat of Eddie Rosario to lead off the second inning almost soured an otherwise impressive outing. Rosario managed to clear the right-center field fences, but right fielder Craig Gentry went up and pulled the ball back into the Yard, preserving a 0-0 scoreline and making what may already be the “Play of the Year”.
Things started to get interesting, as they usually do, once the bullpens got involved. Lefty Zach Duke replaced Odorizzi and promptly started throwing the ball just about everywhere except over the plate.
Trey Mancini struck out to start the inning, but a wild third strike got past catcher Jason Castro, allowing Mancini to reach first base. Tim Beckham batted next. During his plate appearance, Duke threw another wild pitch, advancing Mancini to second base. Beckham struck out, pinch hitter Danny Valencia was intentionally walked and then Craig Gentry struck out to bring Caleb Joseph to the plate. The outfield was playing quite shallow and on the first pitch he saw, Joseph poked the ball to right-center field for a triple that scored Mancini and Valencia to give the O’s their first lead of the season, 2-0. Chris Davis struck out to end inning, meaning Duke recorded four strikeouts in one inning but still allowed two runs and was now on the hook for the loss. Baseball is weird sometimes.
The Orioles bullpen was not immune to the relief struggles as the lack of Zach Britton reared its head right at the start of the season. Darren O’Day worked a perfect eighth inning, but Brach Brach couldn’t close up shop in the ninth.
Rosario started things with a one-out single, and then a four-pitch walk to Logan Morrison pushed fans to the edge of their collective seats. Brach managed to strike out Eduardo Escobar to calm things a bit, but the at-bat against Max Kepler felt like a back-breaker. Brach threw 11 pitches and Kepler fouled off five before working a walk to load the bases with two outs. Robbie Grossman pinch hit for Byron Buxton and delivered a flare into shallow center field on a 3-1 pitching, scoring Rosario and Ryan LaMarre, who had pinch run for Morrison, and tying things at two runs apiece. With that, Brach’s day was done.
It was battle of the bullpens from that point on. Even without Britton, that’s a battle the Orioles should feel pretty confident about. Mychal Givens relieved Brach, finishing the ninth and tossing a perfect 10th frame. Richard Bleier came on for the 11th inning and, although a runner did make it to third base, kept the Twins off the scoreboard.
Minnesota, luckily for Birdland, did not fare as well. Fernando Rodney has stood the test of time in MLB, but he’s always been a volatile reliever and he just couldn’t get the job done today. After working out of some trouble in the 10th inning, Rodney returned for the 11th. Jones came to the batter’s box ready to swing at the first pitch no matter what because he “knew” it was going to be a fastball. He told the MASN broadcast just as much after the game. Rodney gave him that fastball on the inside half of the plate and Jones crushed the ball into the left field bleachers. Game over. Orioles win 3-2.
Better yet, Jones was PIED after the game during his celebratory interview. Are the pies back full-time? This team needs some good vibes and with Mark Trumbo sidelined, we need pies. We need them more than ever. Keep the sweets coming and keep getting those delicious wins.
Baseball is back, and it’s still as fun as ever. Who knows how good the Orioles are going to be this season, but for one day, at least, they are in first place, have a stud at the top of the rotation and Adam Jones is still awesome.
The Birds are off on Friday (boo) but will be back on the field Saturday for game two with the Twins. First pitch is set for 7:05 at Camden Yards. Andrew Cashner (and his beard) will make his (their?) Birdland debut. Minnesota will counter with Kyle Gibson.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Opening Day, 2018?
This poll is closed
Adam Jones (walk-off DONG)
Caleb Joseph (two-run triple)
Dylan Bundy (seven scoreless innings)
Mychal Givens (protecting Brad Brach from complete disaster)