The Orioles took their first step toward a perfect 162-0 record tonight with a 4-1 win over the Rays. Jeremy Guthrie, sure to be the American League Cy Young winner at season’s end, pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out six batters. And soon-to-be All-Star outfielder Nick Markakis had two RBIs.
OK, so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here on the whole undefeated thing, but it’s Opening Day and there was a lot to like about what we saw from the new-look Orioles tonight.
Of course, the most impressive performance came from one of the old guys, Guthrie, who was making his third Opening Day start in four seasons. Guthrie had excellent command of the strike zone and went after the Rays. His only mistake was a fat second-inning fastball over the middle of the plate that Dan Johnson hit off the top of the center field wall at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Other than that, it was an excellent outing for Guthrie, who picked up where he left off at the end of the 2010 season.
The Baltimore offense didn’t give us a scoring bonanza, but the Orioles picking up four runs off Rays ace David Price was pretty impressive. The Orioles broke open the game in the fifth inning. Matt Wieters singled and J.J. Hardy walked. Brian Roberts brought them home with a Johnny Damon-aided triple. Markakis scored Roberts with a sacrifice fly. That’s what happens when you have a complete lineup without two easy outs in the eighth and ninth spots. You can turn the order over and start rallying.
With Brian Matusz scratched from tomorrow night’s start, Chris Tillman will take the mound and try to keep the perfect season alive. I know a 162-0 season isn’t happening -- they're bound to lose a game or two eventually, right? -- but good things will come for the Orioles if they start the season strong.