Nick Hundley couldn’t have picked a better time to hit his first home run as an Oriole.
The catcher, acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres on May 24, blasted a go-ahead solo shot to left field in the sixth inning that helped the Orioles to a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in the second game of Friday’s day-night doubleheader.
The ball had no-doubt-about-it length, but it squeaked by the foul pole at Camden Yards to crack open a game that had been tied at 1 since the second inning.
“I know I hit it good enough. I just made sure it was fair,” Hundley said. “I might have waited there a little longer than I normally would, but when it was that close, I think I can do that.”
It was Hundley’s first home run since April 20, and it also marked the catcher’s only multiple-RBI game of the year. He plated shortstop J.J. Hardy in the second inning with a soft fly ball that landed in shallow left field.
The Orioles traded for Hundley to prepare for a year without hot-hitting catcher Matt Wieters, who went on the 15-day disabled list May 11 and underwent season-ending elbow surgery June 17.
The former Padre is batting .222 through 51 plate appearances with his new team, and Friday’s performance was just his third multihit game with the Orioles.
But it was a welcome change of pace for Hundley, who acknowledged being “awful” for the beginning of his tenure in Baltimore.
“Nobody works harder than Nick and cares more, and he's been a guy who's very easy to pull for, very easy to trust, and he cares,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
So when Hundley saw the ball disappear into the crowd on the fair side of the left-field pole, he relished the opportunity to return to his teammates in the dugout.
“I think I was a little more pumped up than I would normally be just because it was my first one here,” he said. “It was fun to celebrate with them and take the lead.”