Baltimore Orioles fall short in home opener


Falling 12-5 at home to a team that’s expecting to challenge the Birds for the division title wasn’t exactly how the Baltimore Orioles drew up their home opener. But there’s often a vast difference between the way we think things will go, and how they actually work out.

Bud Norris took it on the chin for the Birds yesterday, taking the loss as the starter. Norris’ line: 3 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Norris never appeared to get into a groove, and his struggles were from the get go. After the game, he admitted to MASNsports‘ Steve Melewski that this wasn’t how he envisioned the home opener going: 

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"Not what I envisioned. Tough to do here at home in front of these guys. I’ll take that one for sure on me."

Toronto got the first two runners on base in the game, and Jose Bautista‘s RBI-single put them on the board. That was followed up by an Edwin Encarnacion sac fly-RBI, which was followed by Dioneer Navarro’s two-RBI double.

So the O’s trailed 4-0 before even coming to bat. However it appeared that the O’s might make a game of it as Adam Jones hit his first home run of the season with nobody on to cut the lead to 4-1. However Toronto would put a fifth run across on  a Josh Donaldson sac fly-RBI in the third, and Josh Donaldson would smack a two-RBI double in the fourth to put Toronto ahead 7-1.

Jose Bautista would add an RBI-single in that fourth inning, along with Josh Donaldson’s two-RBI double. Jones would net the Orioles’ second run of the game with an RBI-single in the fifth. Delmon Young would add an RBI-single and Manny Machado‘s GIDP added a fourth run – both in the last of the eighth. The Orioles’ fifth and final run came on another solo home run, this time by Jonathan Schoop.

Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The problem of course is that Toronto kept adding on. Whereas Toronto’s outs seemed to net runs through sacrifices, the Orioles’ couldn’t follow suit. This game was almost a snapshot of last season’s ALDS, when every bounce seemed to go the opponents’ way. This is not to say that Toronto got lucky, however they were skilled at “hitting it where they weren’t. If the Orioles put on a shift, they hit against it. If the numbers indicated that they should shade the outfield towards center, Toronto hit the ball down the line. But that’s how life can work sometimes.

The Orioles put up 13 hits, so it wasn’t as if they didn’t get on base at all. However while Toronto used their base runners and outs to score runs (through various sac flies), the Orioles were unable to plate but five runners. Part of that was due to the competition – Toronto starter Mark Buerhle (who won his 200th career game) mowed Oriole hitters down left and right.

The exception to that was Adam Jones, who was one of the lone bright spots for the O’s. Jones went 4-for-4, and was a triple shy of the cycle. But baseball isn’t a game for individual statistics, and Jones would be the first one to tell you that. However the fact that Jones’ and later Jonathan Schoop’s bats are heating up early bodes well for the Orioles moving forward.

After the game Wesley Wright told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports that he was experiencing some shoulder pains, which is going to be something to watch over the next 24-36 hours. Wright expressed concern, however it’s something that the Orioles will monitor. If he has to go to the DL it would allow the O’s to get down to the 12 pitchers they want to carry, and have a spot open for either David Lough or J.J. Hardy when they come off the DL.

The Orioles will send Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound tonight in game two of the series with Toronto. He’ll be charged with being a stopper of sorts for the Birds, however don’t make yourself think that the season hangs in the balance by any means. We still have 158 games to go! Jimenez will be opposed by Aaron Sanchez of Toronto.