By Jeff Zrebiec | firstname.lastname@example.org
April 7, 2009
Opening Day in Baltimore had a little of everything, but most important to the largest Opening Day crowd in Camden Yards history was the Orioles' 10-5 throttling of the hated Yankees before an announced 48,607 on a rainy-turned-picturesque afternoon.
"We have a long season left, so we don't want to make too much of one game, but if it was like that every day, it would be pretty awesome around here," Orioles second baseman and leadoff hitter Brian Roberts said.
After struggling all spring, Jeremy Guthrie thoroughly out-pitched former Cleveland Indians teammate CC Sabathia, who turned in a stinker in his Yankees debut, allowing six earned runs, striking out none for the first time since 2005 and not getting out of the fifth inning.
Mark Teixeira, the Maryland native who eschewed a seven-year, $140 million offer this offseason from the hometown Orioles to sign an eight-year, $180 million contract with the Yankees, was booed unmercifully as he went 0-for-4 and grounded out with the tying run on third in the eighth inning.
"Especially with me coming back, not signing with the O's, I would expect nothing less," Teixeira said. "I love Baltimore. They're passionate. They're the greatest fans when the O's are winning, and I think they're looking forward to a good season for the Orioles."
The Orioles, who have won 11 of their past 14 Opening Day games in Baltimore, broke open the game with a four-run bottom of the eighth as new shortstop Cesar Izturis barely reached the left-field seats with a two-run homer, just his third in the past four seasons, and Aubrey Huff added a two-run double. The Orioles pounded out 14 hits and collected their second-highest run output on Opening Day.
"That was really fun," said right fielder Nick Markakis (two RBIs). "It's Opening Day; everybody is ready for the baseball season. What better way to start it?"
The day started with a clubhouse visit from Vice President Joe Biden, who threw out the first pitch, and Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Angelos spent about 30 minutes in the clubhouse, meeting the players and coaches, most of them for the first time. That just added to the electric environment, which Roberts said reminded him of the 2005 season, when the Orioles were in first place and the Yankees were in town.
Roberts and Adam Jones, the Orioles' first two hitters, combined to go 6-for-7 with two RBIs, five runs and three walks. Jones got the home team's scoring started with a two-run triple in the third inning that put the Orioles up for good.
With the Orioles laying off his off-speed pitches, Sabathia needed 96 pitches to make it through 4 1/3 innings. He allowed eight hits and five walks, and mixed in two wild pitches. "I was terrible," said Sabathia, who signed the largest pitcher's contract in baseball history.
Guthrie, meanwhile, absorbed a $120,000 pay cut and is making $650,000 this season. In his second consecutive Opening Day start, he allowed three earned runs and seven hits over six innings, a solid effort that certainly alleviated some concern about his poor spring numbers and his slight drop in velocity.
"I stopped thinking about it," Guthrie said. "It's something I have kind of put out of my mind for now."
Things certainly got dicey for the Orioles, who led 6-1 after five innings but watched the Yankees pull within one run on Hideki Matsui's two-run homer off Chris Ray in the seventh inning. It was Ray's first appearance since July 2007; he missed all last season after ligament-reconstruction surgery.
It was still a one-run game in the eighth when the Yankees had a man on third and one out against Jim Johnson. However, Johnson retired Derek Jeter on a groundout to Izturis, and after walking Johnny Damon, he got Teixeira to ground out to end the threat.
"It kind of says a whole lot when you have the vice president of the United States here, the owner, the largest crowd for Opening Day, and we win," manager Dave Trembley said. "That's a nice day for everybody."
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