Wieters shines in return, Jones breaks tie with homer in 5-2 win over Indians

Matt Wieters' night at the plate in his long-awaited season debut — two hits and two RBIs in the Orioles' 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians — only scratched the surface of what the return of the team's All-Star and Gold Glove catcher meant Friday night.

"You've got your field general," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. "That's what he is."


It had been nearly 13 months since Wieters played his last regular-season game and 12 days short of a year since he had Tommy John ligament reconstruction on his right elbow. He acknowledged that he didn't know how he'd feel getting back onto the field for the first time since May 10, 2014, but he wanted to skip most of the firsts and get back to the routine.

"I had a little bit of a heartbeat going, but I felt pretty calm and pretty comfortable," Wieters said. "I think my first rehab game, I had a little more of a heartbeat going just seeing how the arm felt, but I was confident in the arm today."

The hits? Those come and go.

"It was nice to get the first win out of the way," Wieters said. "That's what you miss the most. You don't miss individual hits, individual things. You miss getting to go through the line and shake hands after the game."

Other than the return of Wieters, the Orioles (25-29) had plenty of reasons to be positive after their second straight win. Right-hander Chris Tillman ended his career-high six-decision losing streak, holding the Indians to two runs on six hits over 61/3 innings, striking out three and walking three.

Jones, who struggled in May, appears to be getting back into his comfort zone at the plate. After hitting the eventual game-winning homer in Thursday's series finale against the Astros in Houston, Jones crushed a 1-0 pitch from Indians starter Shaun Marcum 423 feet into the left-field bleachers in the sixth inning Friday. After going 20 games without a homer, Jones has homered in consecutive games.

Jones also drove in an insurance run in the eighth on a triple that bounced past Brandon Moss in right field, scoring Travis Snider from first.

In the Orioles' 54th game of the season, it was the first time their core group of Jones, Wieters, shortstop J.J. Hardy, first baseman Chris Davis and third baseman Manny Machado were all on the field together.


"It's been a tough road," Tillman said. "But I think you throw those guys on the field and as a starting pitcher, if you give those guys the chance to put up some runs, you're going to be in pretty good shape. … Anytime you're able to have a guy like [Wieters] in the lineup, catching, just being around the team, the impact he makes on the game is huge."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter noticed the little things about having Wieters back: the foul tips he caught for strikeouts, the calm demeanor of his pitchers and his presence behind the plate.

"We didn't need for Matt to have a good game to remind us of what he's capable of," Showalter said. "But I'm just glad for him and his family to feel good about tonight. It's been a long journey for him. He's still technically ahead of schedule, but we'll be cautious with him. He had a great game behind the plate. He caught some balls that not many people catch. He catches foul tips better than anybody I've ever seen."

After Jones' sixth-inning homer gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead, Tillman allowed a leadoff double to David Murphy. But Hardy made a heads-up play when the next batter, Lonnie Chisenhall, hit a grounder to short. Hardy went to third, erasing the lead runner and getting the Orioles out of the jam.

In his second at-bat of the season, Wieters drove in the Orioles' first run of the night, hitting a ball off the left-field wall to score Davis and give the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Wieters added a sixth-inning single and drove in Jones in the eighth on a sacrifice fly to center that gave the Orioles a 5-2 cushion.

"We were making jokes about it that he didn't even need a spring training because I think he was 0-for in spring training and he comes in and get two knocks right away," Jones said. "How does that work? But it's good to have him back."


Tillman (3-7) held Cleveland scoreless for the first four innings but ran into trouble in the fifth. After singles by Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles put runners at the corners with one out, leadoff hitter Jason Kipnis hit an RBI single up the middle. Two batters later, Michael Brantley looped a two-out single that scored another run to tie the game at 2, but Tillman was able to prevent further damage, stranding runners at the corners.

"I think there was a certain calmness and a certain presence there with Matt that helped him somewhat," Showalter said. "That's the kind of game that Chris has let get away from him, but he didn't tonight."

With Tillman at 101 pitches and one down in the seventh, Showalter turned to left-hander T.J. McFarland against an Indians lineup with six left-handed hitters and one switch-hitter. McFarland retired five of the six hitters he faced, the only blemish being a two-out walk to Carlos Santana in the seventh.

Despite allowing a leadoff single to Gomes in the ninth, closer Zach Britton retired the next three hitters to earn his 15th save, ending the game by striking out Kipnis swinging and giving Wieters his first handshake line of the season.

"Hopefully we can put a good run together and get going," Wieters said. "I think the thing is most of the guys in this clubhouse have been through some wars with each other so we know what we're capable of and we know what the guy next to us is going to bring to the field, and I'm excited to be a part of it."