Baltimore Orioles: The happiest of homecomings
For the first time in over two weeks, the smell of hot dogs, beer, nachos, and mst importantly people last night. The gates re-opened, the Baltimore Orioles were on the field, and baseball was played. The scene was vastly different the last time the Birds were at Camden Yards, as fans weren’t allowed in and were relegated to the outer gates in left field.
But I digress. For the first time in what seemed like forever, the city of Baltimore was whole again. And to be frank folks, that feels really good to write. The game itself was just an average home game against Toronto on a Monday night. But thanks to a grass roots campaign by fans, it was dubbed “re-Opening Day.” And the O’s themselves had a surprise just for the occasion; in honor of the city and it’s people, they came out wearing home white jerseys inscripted with just BALTIMORE.
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Following a weekend that was incredibly trying for Oriole pitching, Ubaldo Jimenez did a great service for his team and his pitching staff with how he performed. Jimenez’s line: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 9 K. Jimenez threw over 100 pitches in the game, and put the O’s in a position to win.
Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Fortunately for Jimenez, the offense also picked up the effort he put forth. On a full count in the Orioles’ first at-bat of the game, Manny Machado hit a line drive home run to center field. Following a Jones strikeout, Delmon Young drew a walk…and we know that nothing good happens after a walk. Chris Davis came to the plate then with one on and one out, and whalloped a pitch to the top of the bleacher seats in right center field, giving the O’s a 3-0 lead after one.
Jimenez cruised until the fifth inning, when Toronto put together back-to-back doubles – Ezequiel Carrera‘s cutting the Orioles’ lead to 3-1. However the Orioles got that run back, on Caleb Joseph‘s sac fly-RBI one inning later. Carrera would add another RBI-double in the seventh, which ended up being Jimenez’s final inning of the game. It appeared that Toronto might have finally gotten to Jimenez on a two-out shot deep to right in that seventh inning, however Delmon Young made a clutch running catch which might have saved the game.
But cue an Adam Jones home run in the last of the seventh to keep the Orioles’ margin of victory at three. Things got a bit hairy when Jose Bautista came up as a pinch hitter with two on and two out, but Bautista grounded the first pitch he saw to Manny Machado – who flipped to Davis at first to end the game. As big of a win as this was for the Oriole team, it was a bigger one for the city and it’s people. While the fans of course had the opportunity to see the O’s on TV while they were on the road, it was the first time in awhile that the local businesses who depend on Orioles baseball were able to turn a profit.
This win wasn’t without it’s price, as Ryan Flaherty had to leave the game in the third inning, with what appeared to be a further tweak to his newly-healed groin. Flaherty was in palpable pain as he lumbered around the infield and eventually into the dugout. After the game Buck Showalter simply said we’ll see how we are regarding the injury, and he indicated that Flaherty might also undergo an MRI to see if there’s anything else going on.
While the wounds of the city won’t be gone for some time, the hope is that the Orioles and the city of Baltimore can put all of this behind them and now move on. The Orioles managed to find the formula that worked so well for them last year in that they put runs on the board early, smacked a few homers, and got good quality pitching. Everything came together for this team in this game as time went on, and the Birds came off as a team with a mission. And there’s no doubt that in fact was the fact.
The series continues tonight at Camden Yards, with Chris Tillman on the mound for the Orioles. Toronto will counter with Mark Buehrle. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.