Buck Showalter started off his postgame press conference with this deadpan line, "That was a long day at the park."
Indeed it was. Two rain delays held the game up for nearly three hours. First pitch was supposed to be at 3:05 p.m.; the game didn't actually end until about 8:45 p.m. But it ended with a 3-2 Orioles win, so everyone went home happy.
Much like the weather, not everything went according to the script. The Orioles are supposed to be a team that thrives on the long ball, but on Opening Day, they relied on timely singles in order to push runs across. Though the O's left 12 men on base, three runs proved to be enough.
Asked about those contrasting offensive styles, Showalter pointed to right fielder Mark Trumbo's stolen base. Trumbo, who had four hits on the day, is not exactly fleet of foot, but taking advantage of situations like that when they're presented to you will win ballgames.
"Little things like that, when it's there, we gotta go get it," he said.
The story on the 2016 Orioles, supposedly, is that the starting pitching will be the team's weak spot, and yet Chris Tillman looked brilliant in his rain-shortened start, striking out five over two perfect innings. Hard to read a lot into such a short outing, but Tillman's electric stuff did all the talking. A Chris Tillman resurgance would go a long way toward making this team a playoff contender.
Tyler Wilson, who will likely serve as the teams fifth starter, chipped in three innings of scoreless relief work.
Something else that didn't go as planned: the traditional post-victory pie in the face delivered by Adam Jones. The team banned it earlier this year. Yet as Matt Wieters was doing an interview following his walk-off single, out came Jones to smash a platter with frosting into the catcher's face.
During Showalter's press conference, Sun columnist Peter Schmuck asked if this was a violation of team rules.
"It was a cake," he wryly clarified.
"You know, I've lost control of the team again," he joked.
If the Orioles keep winning--regardless of whether they stick to the script or not--Showalter likely won't mind seeing a lot more cakes.
It's a walk-off, it's a walk-off. With two outs, Davis walks. Trumbo singles and Davis motors to third. Wieters, who earlier failed multiple times to come through with runners in scoring position, delivers a bloop single up the middle to end the game. 3-2 final.
The Orioles are currently on pace to go 162-0. Ain't he beer cold!
Britton gets 'em 1-2-3. Hardy made a great play to get the Orioles off the field, going deep in the hole on a grounder and bouncing a throw to Davis to retire the slow-running Kurt Suzuki. Nice play on both ends.
Walk-off time, please. Though if it's going to happen, it probably won't be a home run--the wind has really picked up again and seems to be blowing in.
Once again, the O's threaten, with Schoop hitting a two-out double in the 8th. Who else would come up but Joey Rickard? A go-ahead hit would have been the perfect storybook ending to Rickard's major league debut, no? Surely the beat writers were hoping it would happen. It was not meant to be, unfortunately. The young outfielder was called out on strikes.
We're going into the 9th and closer Zach Britton is on the mount to keep it tied.
O'Day pitches a scoreless inning, but he didn't do so without making it interesting. With one out, Mauer singled into left. After a Miguel Sano out, Trevor Plouffe moved Mauer over to third with a single near the gap in left. O'Day was able to escape the jam, however, after getting Eddie Rosario to weakly fly out to center.
The O's came close to pulling ahead there but fell just short. Davis hit a long out that Buxton caught right up against the fence in center field. That ball probably sneaks out of here in the summer heat. Mark Trumbo singled with two outs--his third hit of the game--and advance into scoring position on a wild pitch. But Wieters could not bring him in, getting rung up on strikes.
Darren O'Day on to start the 8th.
It's time for the 7th inning stretch and the game is tied 2-2, but it probably could have been worse for the O's. Brach came on and got Suzuki to hit a long foul ball toward the wall in left field. Rickard came over and made a nice catch, but Park was able to tag up and score. Brach tried to appeal with a throw over to Machado and was denied. Byron Buxton struck out to end the threat.
There's a conversation going on in the press box about whether Rickard was right to take the out or if he should have let the ball drop in foul territory. Given that there were still runners on, it seems wise to take the out. Could go either way, really. Hopefully the Orioles bats make it moot.
Not a good start to the 7th inning here. The wheels came off for Givens after he got Trevor Plouffe to ground out. Eddie Rosario hit a double, then Givens hit Byung Ho Park with a pitch. Eduardo Escobar scored one with a double. There are still runners on second and third with only one out. Brad Brach coming on to pitch now.
The bullpen is supposed to be a strength of this team--they need to clamp down here.
A pretty quiet 6th overall. Givens surrenders one hit and strikes out two. Jonathan Schoop drew a walk, but there wasn't much else doing. The biggest news, according to all the reporters on Twitter, at least, is that Joey Rickard is no longer batting 1.000.
The Fan of the Game was a guy holding a cut-out of Showalter's head wearing a pair of Deal With It dog sunglasses. This guy is my new hero.
Welp, the rally ends at two runs, but hey, that's two more than the Twins have. Mychal Givens is on now for the O's. So Wilson didn't get the five innings I predicted, but his three scoreless innings were crucial nevertheless.
Remember this day fondly as the beginning of the legend of Joey Rickard. The left fielder started off the bottom of the 5th by dumping a ball into right. He hustled around first and stretched it into a double, drawing huge cheers from the crowd.
Manny Machado followed it up with a single, and then Adam Jones doubled them both in. 2-0 Orioles. Still no outs.
J.J. Hardy's walk was the offensive highlight of the bottom of the 4th. Otherwise, the O's went quietly. The Twins got a few hard-hit outs in the 7th, but no damage done. We're already in the bottom of the 5th now, meaning it's an official game! Moving briskly now. It would be kind of fitting if it went into extras, though.
Or, you can do what the Orioles did in the bottom of the 3rd and go 1-2-3. But it's all good, because the sun is out and Camden Yards is looking pretty.
And some more good news: Wilson works another clean frame in the top of the 4th.
And Wilson gets out of the jam, getting Kurt Suzuki to ground out, striking out Byron Buxton, and getting Brian Dozier to fly out. Gotta figure manager Buck Showalter is hoping Wilson can go at least five innings here.
Now it's time for the bats to push a run across.
The game started at about 6:29 p.m., a little ahead of schedule. Tyler Wilson has replaced Tillman, and he started the 3rd off by surrendering a double.
Seeing a lot of empty seats, but a sizable crowd did stick around to watch this game (hopefully) come to its conclusion.
Rain delay number two is expected to end at 6:30 p.m. It looks like the sky is lightening up a bit. The sun maybe even be peeking through a bit.
Another break in the action meant I got to make another pass at the press cafeteria.
Cool moment in the bottom of the 2nd as outfielder Joey Rickard makes his MLB debut and then pokes a single into center field. Looks like he's picking up right where he left off in the spring. O's can't capitalize on another scoring threat and the score is 0-0, heading into the 3rd.
And it will remain that way for a little while as the grounds crew brings the tarp back onto the field. Sad times.
The Boh bar has been found! Remember this for the rest of the season, because it's one of the few places you can get it.
Meanwhile, Chris Tillman has been brilliant through two innings, striking out five. The O's threatened Twins starter Ervin Santana in the 1st, getting two men on in scoring position with two outs. After working the count full, catcher Matt Wieters struck out.
In the first at-bat, second baseman Brian Dozier flies out to J.J. Hardy in shallow left field. Wind was really blowing during that one and Hardy almost lost it.
And the Orioles have taken the field. We're going to have a game! Or at least part of one.
Meanwhile, City Paper photo editor J.M. Giordano is wandering around the eighth floor of the B&O Warehouse.
They just announced that the game is expected to start at 4:45 p.m. Orioles starter Chris Tillman is out in center field beginning to warm up now. Only 20 or so minutes of chugging beers in the concourse, folks.
The tarp is still on the field and it started pouring, so it looks like there won't be any baseball in the near future. I wandered around the stadium a bit during the delay. A few dispatches (tl;dr version is lots of time to drink):
Welp, they just brought the tarp onto the field. First pitch is gonna be delayed.
Worth noting: There were a few boos during the introduction of outfielder Hyun Soo Kim. The Korean signee basically forced the team keep him on the Opening Day roster despite a poor spring performance. Guess the fans aren't too wild about that.
Opening Day is finally here, but it's still unclear it today's game will be able to happen in full. The forecast is calling for rain and gray clouds are hanging over the sky above Oriole Park at Camden Yards. At least baseball is finally here, right? The Orioles begin the season after a busy offseason of spending that resulted in the highest payroll in team history. After starting out spring training with an 0-10-2 record, the Birds finally started reeling off wins. It started around the same time City Paper got there. Coincidence? Probably. We'll see which team shows up today.