Baltimore Orioles: What did we learn from Opening Day?

Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

What did we learn about Buck Showalter’s 2016 Baltimore Orioles after one game on one very long day?

Admittedly I thought yesterday’s Baltimore Orioles game would have been over well before the lights would have been necessary at Camden Yards. Buck Showalter indicated a similar sentiment after the game in his press conference. But that’s life in baseball. It’s the price these guys pay for playing the best sport in the world, and it’s the price I pay for covering it!

While I understand the need for it and so forth, I’ve always disliked the token day off after Opening Day. It’s only one day, but it’s always felt like an eternity to me! So with that said, what do we know so far about this Orioles team? The answer is not too much – yet. The good news I suppose is that they haven’t had to make a roster move as of yet. Last year you’ll recall Chris Davis was suspended for the first game in Tampa and was activated as soon as the game had ended.

While we still don’t know much, yesterday’s game should offer just a ray of hope to the crew who says that this team is doomed. Mind you, they still very well may or may not be doomed – we just don’t know yet. However we were all under the impression that the 2016 O’s would be a homer-happy group who in effect struggle to get on base and who’s starting pitching would have it’s struggles. Speaking for myself personally, I predicted a 7-5 victory for the Birds before the game yesterday.

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  • What we saw instead was Chris Tillman being absolutely dominant through his truncated outing. Granted, for all we know Tillman would have totally fallen apart in the third inning onward had the game not been delayed. But all we can analyze is what we saw – and in facing six hitters Tillman struck out five. That’s pretty impressive.

    Furthermore the O’s won this game without hitting a home run. Adam Jones came close, and perhaps if it was mid-June instead of a dreary April day he would have. But while the run production wasn’t great (three runs), the point is that they came without the use of a homer. On the flip side, obviously the bullpen surrendered the lead late in the game – something we aren’t used to seeing. But again you can’t totally knock them, as this was a long day overall that at a certain point probably got some guys off-kilter.

    Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
    Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

    Speaking of which, my biggest takeaway on this game was the fact that this is still a very resilient bunch of guys. There’s no team who’s psyche wouldn’t be affected by two long rain delays, poor conditions, and the low of having to wait around for so long after such a wonderful Opening Day ceremony. However this Oriole team hung in there and won it on one swing of the bat by Matt Wieters in the last of the ninth.

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    And again, that shows how important it is to get guys on base in this game. Two outs were recorded in that ninth inning when guys swung for the fences. Admittedly, it’s probably human nature when you’re in that situation to end the game with one swing. But it ended up being a base hit and a walk that made the difference. Get guys on base, and good things will happen.

    And incidentally, there’s a lesson in that final sequence of the game. Chris Davis was at first base when Mark Trumbo came to bat. Minnesota went into a “no doubles defense,” which in effect pushes the outfielders all the way to the wall. It’s similar to a “prevent defense” in the NFL – which as we know effectively “prevents you from winning.” Now I’m not going to be overly critical of Minnesota for playing that type of defense, because in baseball it’s probably the right play (on a double, a guy might be able to score from first base). However it certainly came across as playing it safe.

    And believe me folks, nobody plays it safe as much as I do – in all aspects of life. However in playing it safe, Minnesota was defenseless on a single up the middle. And that’s what Trumbo hit; the center fielder had to run all the way back in to field the ball, allowing Davis to go to third. Granted he still would have been in scoring position, but you get the point.

    Next: Baltimore Orioles: Matt Wieters walks off after a long day

    At the end of the day – a very long day at that – we can’t say anything concrete about this Orioles team. However needless to say while it was certainly an interesting Opening Day, it can’t go down as a bad one for the O’s.