Once again Opening Da has come to Baltimore. There are few things in the world like Opening Day. There simply are not many annual events that take place that legitimately feel different every year. Even one’s birthday, over time, rings hollow at points but not Opening Day.
Every year a new Opening Day brings with is a new set of possibilities that may unfold. E very Opening Day brings with it the hopes a winning season; the playoffs, or even a championship. That is what makes it so great, the promise of a new year; the promise of another Summer of memories. And in a world of broken dreams, it is a promise that is virtually impossible to break.
The Orioles opened the 2013 season like they did last year, on the road. The delayed home opener gives us fans a chance to catch a glimpse of what our summer hopefully has in store. The Orioles took two of three from the Rays in three very hard-fought, extremely entertaining, baseball games. The story of the series was Chris Davis, the Orioles’ first baseman and default middle-of-the-order bat. If there was anyone doubting the ability of Chris Davis to be that middle-of-the-order-guy Davis has announced his presence with authority by hitting a homerun in each of the three opening games against the Rays. The only way he could top it would be to hit a game-winning grand slam at the home opener.
Chris Davis, of course, did just that. He hit a grand slam to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning during the home opener. Davis has hit four homers in four games and has hit a homer in each of his last 11 games dating back to last year’s regular season. Now, it is absolutely absurd to think Davis could sustain anything in the same solar system as this pace, but he has definitely proved that he is the “bat” that so many felt the Orioles needed to obtain.
Jake Arrieta started today, his third home opener in a row, and it was a frustratingly typical Arrieta start. Jake gave up five runs and seven hits over five innings, but in true Arreita fashion four of the five runs came in one pretty bad inning. The top of the fourth undid Arrieta; Jake gave up a double and a walk to start the inning. He rebounded to get two very impressive strike-outs before giving up a single to the Twins’ Chris Parmelee followed by a triple from Brian Dozier and then a single to Eduardo Escobar.
Arrieta would get the no-decision in the game after the bullpen came in and go the job done, mostly. Luis Ayala rebounded nicely from his bad outing against Tampa. He did allow an inherited runner score in the top of the sixth but that was all the Orioles’ pen would allow. Ayala, Troy Patton and Pedro Strop combined for four innings of three-hit, scoreless ball.
The Orioles’ offense kept the game close and continued to scratch out runs throughout the day. Adam Jones, Manny Machado and JJ Hardy all had RBI today, but the true hero was of course the simply untouchable Chris Davis. Davis’ homer came in the bottom of the eighth just after the Twins ordered the intentional walk of Matt Wieters to load the bases, to bring up Adam Jones. Jones made manager Ron Gardenhire pay by lacing a single and once again bringing the game even at five runs a-piece. Then Chris Davis strode to the plate. Gardenhire elected to go to the pen and brought in lefty Tyler Robertson to face the lefty Davis. Davis, of course, deposited the first pitch he saw into the opposite field stands giving the Orioles the lead and eventual win.
What can one take away from all of this? Nothing really, it is far far too early to begin to see any real trends or make any predictions. It is useless to try and divine any sort of future from these first few games. It is much better to be 3-1 that 1-3, that is certainly an agreeable fact and the team has gotten to 3-1 while looking solid. The offense, defense, pitching, everything has looked solid. Not fantastic, not flawless but solid. The Orioles have played thus far like a team that one looks at and says: “If they play like this all season, they will win many games.”
Who knows what the 2013 season will bring, all I know is that baseball is back in Baltimore and the capacity crowd at Camden Yards went home happy with another thrilling victory. Not a bad start to the year at all.