Not in terms of attitude, mind you. The Orioles likely have their share since most of baseball doesn’t think they’ll amount to much this year. No, Jones made sure the home team won another Opening Day in thrilling fashion.
The Orioles and Twins were tied 2-2 in the 11th inning when Jones walked to the plate. Hitless in his previous four at-bats, Jones faced Fernando Rodney, Minnesota’s hard-throwing closer, leading off the inning.
Rodney delivered a fastball with his first pitch. Jones smacked a laser of a line drive that landed in the left-field seats.
His home-run trot ended with a Gatorade shower and a congratulatory yet violent ceremony from his teammates that resulted in his jersey being ripped off.
No matter — Jones delivered the Orioles’ third consecutive walk-off win on Opening Day.
The team’s longest tenured player put a stamp on this 3-2 victory and saved the day after it seemed certain things wouldn’t wind up so rosy.
And, at times, it was a quirky game — the Twins struck out four Orioles in the seventh inning, and used five infielders to get out a bases-loaded jam in the 10th.
Baltimore has its share of fresh faces to open the year. Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb, each signed in the offseason, will soon be in the starting rotation. Former Orioles Danny Valencia and Pedro Alvarez re-joined their former club in the spring, and both started Thursday.
Craig Gentry, a non-roster invitee after playing 77 games with the Orioles last season, made a start in right field and robbed Eddie Rosario of a home run with a leaping grab over the wall in the second.
And catcher Caleb Joseph, who came into the game with two career triples, laced one into the gap in right-center with two outs in the seventh that gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead.
It didn’t hold in the ninth, though, courtesy of a shaky Brad Brach in the closer’s role and a misplayed grounder at first from Chris Davis that gave the Twins life.
But, just like old times, the Orioles pulled one out.
Last year, Mark Trumbo rocked a walk-off home run in the 11th inning to beat Toronto 3-2. In 2016, Matt Wieters’ single in the ninth gave the Orioles a 3-2 victory over the Twins.
“Doesn't matter how it comes, as long as you win the game at the end of the day. It was a beautiful game,” Jones said Thursday. “Obviously we wanted to win it in nine, but I can't anybody see that complains about a win, no matter how late you have to go and get it.”
Jones played in his 11th straight opener with the Orioles, and he’s a .341 hitter in those games. It could very well be his last with the club, too — Jones, 32, is also one of the team’s core of pending free agents, and if he joins Brach, closer Zach Britton, and shortstop Manny Machado out the door after this season, you’re looking at quite a different roster come next year.
Perhaps one that won’t have enough experienced talent to stay in contention.
Of course, we’re only 1/162nd (.006 percent) of the way through this year. Jones and the Orioles are 1-0.
All is well in Baltimore.
And perhaps this turned out to be a fitting start to Jones’ farewell tour?