AAAAHHHH DAMMIT!!! HERE WE GO AGAIN!
The Orioles started off their 2010 campaign at Tropicana Field (The Worst Stadium in Baseball) with the debut of several new faces on the diamond such as Garrett Atkins, Miguel Tejada (again) and starting pitcher, Kevin Millwood. The Orioles never trailed until the final run crossed the plate in the bottom of the 9th with a bases loaded single from Carl Crawford.
Adam Jones started off the season with a double in the first inning while teammates Brian Robers and Miguel Tejada both popped out swinging at the first pitch they saw in their at-bats.
Neither team would score until Adam Jones came up to bat in the top of the 3rd where he drove a full-count James Shields pitch opposite field over the right field fence for a solo home run and his second hit of the night. In the bottom half of the inning, Nick Markakis tallied the first outfield assist of the season when he gunned down Dioner Navarro at the plate.
The hits kept coming in the top of the 4th inning where Luke Scott golfed a ball over the right field fence which fell right below the outfield Jumbotron. Once Scott finished jogging around the bases, Matt Wieters singled and Felix Pie drove a ball deep into the outfield. Pie’s long shot missed a home run by nearly a foot and ended up turning into a double, putting Wieters on third base. The Orioles were unsuccessful at delivering either base runner in scoring position home to end the 4th.
The Rays began to tally some runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the 5th when Jason Bartlett doubled sending Pat Burrell to home plate, edging out a throw from left field from Felix Pie. The Orioles outfield has been getting rave reviews around the league and from various media outlets with their great young talent. Felix Pie’s arm seems to be one of the only set backs and teams should be testing him with plays at the plate until he proves them otherwise.
The future face of the franchise, Matt Wieters, has always hit the Rays well (.405 with 3 HR’s entering the game) and he continued to show it. Wieters took a James Shields pitch deep for another solo home run, the 3rd of the night for the Birds.
Not to be outdone by his visiting counterpart Luke Scott, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria absolutely smashed a ball into the upper deck at Tropicana Field. He hit the ball so high the TV cameras couldn’t even find it in the upper deck. Carlos Pena caught the Orioles sleeping with their infield shift towards first base and dropped a bunt down the third baseline for a hit. B.J. Upton followed with a single to place runners on first and second. Starter Kevin Millwood was pulled for Matt Albers, who earned his paycheck tonight. Albers forced a double play and struck out Sean Rodriguez to end the inning.
Mike Gonzalez was definitely the “Terd in the Bullpen” because he forgot to read the memo on how to be a successful reliever on Opening Day. The O’s received great relief from their bullpen to that point, with Albers, Will Ohman and Jim Johnson effectively pitching in their season debut.
The Orioles threatened in the top of the 9th with a double from Garrett Atkins followed by a bunt single from Cesar Izturis. Adam Jones, looking to hit the cycle, grounded into a fielders choice and of course the Orioles couldn’t deliver with the runners in scoring as Miguel Tejada lined out to left field.
Enter Mike Gonzalez into the game to get the first save of the year and que upset stomach feeling as I know something bad is about to happen… and it did! Gonzalez would only get one out in the bottom of the 9th as Sean Rodriguez and Kelly Shoppack scored on a Carl Crawford single to right field with the bases loaded.
The Orioles have no one to blame but themselves for keeping the Rays in the game the whole night. Even though their offense showed some muscle by hitting three solo home runs, they also left ten runners on base- seven of which were in scoring position. They were a dismal 1-for-12 with RISP. There were many times where just a single would have helped give the Orioles a little bit more of the necessary separation they desperately needed.
Besides our awesome new closer, Mike Gonzalez, the Orioles pitchers threw very well tonight. Kevin Millwood made pitches when they were necessary and didn’t allow himself to get into many jams during the night. He finished with 5+ innings pitched, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.
Defensively, the team also played well. Miguel Tejada made a few good plays in his new position at third base and hopefully this ends up being a smooth transition for him. One thing that isn’t smooth is the fact that the 2010 Orioles look like the 2009 Orioles, a team with a lot of potential that can’t close out a game!