Tuesday, April 5, 2016

O's shine through rain, walk off vs. Twins

 Matt Wieters' walk-off single scored Chris Davis to lift the Orioles over the Twins, 3-2, in Monday's Opening Day at Oriole Park.
The game was delayed by rain at the start and then again before the third inning, with a total waiting time of nearly three hours. Both starters, Chris Tillman and Ervin Santana, were forced from the game after play resumed a second time.
"It was a challenging day emotionally," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "There's a lot of emotion swings in the pregame, that's part of Opening Day. A lot people, most of all our fans, have put a lot of time and effort into making this a special day, and we didn't want to let them down. Trying to not only win the game, but trying to present what Opening Days are supposed to be about.
"I think if you'd asked all of them what they want Opening Day to be about, [they'd say] it's the Orioles winning. So that was the key to a good Opening Day for all of us."
Baltimore got on board with a pair of runs on Adam Jones' fifth-inning double, which scoredManny Machado and Rule 5 Draft pick Joey Rickard. Rickard, out of the No. 9 spot, had hits in each of his first two at-bats while Mark Trumbo had four hits. The Twins answered by scoring a pair of runs charged to Mychal Givens in the seventh inning courtesy of Eduardo Escobar's double and Kurt Suzuki's sacrifice fly.
Wieters comes through: The Orioles' backstop, whose Opening Day status was in jeopardy in mid-March, came up big on Monday night. Wieters, who had several long at-bats but nothing to show for it, drove Kevin Jepsen's first-pitch fastball into center field for the game-winning hit.
"When you get to a bullpen with arms like that, if you get something over the middle, you are going to try to put a good swing on it," Wieters said. More >
Eddie the Stick delivers: Escobar was one of Minnesota's hottest hitters in the second half last year, and he carried that over into the first game of the season. He had a pair of doubles, including an RBI double off the wall in right field in the seventh that also set up a game-tying sacrifice fly from Suzuki.
"It was a high fastball, and I was looking for something I could manage," Escobar said through translator Carlos Font. "I thought it was out and was a home run, but I was able to get a double and bring a run in, which was important."
Rickard shines in debut: Rickard -- the standout of the spring -- doubled down the right-field line to start the bottom of the fifth, scoring on Jones' two-run double and becoming the first Oriole to cross home plate.
He also sent an 0-2 slider into center field for his first career hit in the second inning off Santana. In doing so, Rickard became the first Oriole rookie to get a hit in his first Major League at-bat since teammate Jonathan Schoop did it Sept. 25, 2013.
"You always picture it in a way, but you never really know the feelings and emotions that come along with it," Rickard, who was given the lineup card, said of his debut. "And just looking up and seeing the whole crowd and the fans, the stadium's roaring. It was definitely something special and something I'll never forget." More >
Pressly, May dominate: After Santana lasted two innings because of the rain delay, Ryan Pressly and Trevor May helped picked up the slack by throwing two scoreless innings each. Pressly was the first to relieve Santana and allowed one walk and struck out two. May pitched the seventh and eighth innings, racking up four strikeouts. But Jepsen gave up the game-winning run in the ninth to hand the Twins their eighth-straight Opening Day loss.
"I think our 'pen pitched great," Jepsen said. "So to lose it at the end like that after the guys in front me were pitching so well is tough." More >
"It was way off script for an Opening Day. We tried to set things up as best as we could, but part of your challenge every day is to adjust to what's thrown at you, and we were able to piece it together. We found our way back into the game in the seventh there, but it happened quickly like it does in those types of games. You give up a five-pitch walk, and two pitches later you're walking off the field." -- Twins manager Paul Molitor
"It was a cake. You know, I've lost control of the team again. Pick the battles worth winning, right? It had some kind of orange look to it. It looked very cakey to me." -- Showalter, joking of watching Jones pie Wieters with a cake postgame
Rickard is the first player to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft and start the following Opening Day, according to Elias Sports Bureau..
The righty was an unfortunate casualty of the weather, but Tillman was outstanding in his short stint. He struck out five of the six batters faced, throwing 22 pitches and turning in two perfect frames before the game was halted.
"Best stuff I've ever seen him carry," Wieters said of Tillman. "He's had plenty of big games for us, but stuff-wise, especially on Opening Day, that was as good as I've seen."
Twins: After an off-day on Tuesday, right-hander Kyle Gibson takes the mound for the Twins on Wednesday. Gibson was the club's most consistent starter in 2015, posting a 3.84 ERA in a career-high 194 2/3 innings.
Orioles: Baltimore will enjoy an off-day on Tuesday before sending Yovani Gallardo to the mound for the second game against the Twins. Gallardo was signed to a two-year deal with a player option this spring. The game is slated for a 7:05 p.m. ET start.

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