The Orioles beat the Red Sox 2-1 in their home opener at Oriole Park at Camden Yards today thanks to some stellar relief pitching by Zach Britton and a clutch solo HR by the newest Oriole, Nelson Cruz.
Here are some of my thoughts about the game in no particular order:
- Chris Tillman may have had 4 strikeouts and only gave up 1 run, but he failed to complete 6 IP and get a QS which forced the Orioles to use the bullpen for 4 innings. That may seem insignificant as he kept the Orioles in the game, but over a series if he’s going to be the ace, he has to try to get into the 7th inning. He didn’t look like a #1 starter today and the Orioles bullpen will not last the season if their starters can’t pitch deeper. We’ll see how Jimenez does on Wednesday.
- Jon Lester on the other hand got to the 7th inning. The Orioles were working him over pretty good in the opening innings, but then stopped taking pitches and started swinging at just about everything that he was throwing. Plate discipline is still an issue for this team. The Orioles piled up strikeouts and let Lester reach the 7th because they were way too aggressive as usual. I hope this doesn’t become a theme.
- The wind was a big factor as Tillman was hit pretty hard today but a lot of the balls that would have been souvenirs in July, were blown down before they got to the fence.
- Zach Britton did the opposite of Tillman, instead pitching more to contact and got 6 GB outs in 2 IP giving up a double. He looked much better than Tillman because he let the Orioles’ defense behind him make the plays as they did last season, instead of trying to strike each hitter out.
- Besides Britton, I was most impressed with Nelson Cruz and his plate approach. He drew the only walk of the day from Lester and Red Sox pitching. And the HR was a shot. The guy is as advertised vs. LHP. Now the question is can he do it vs. RHP?
- Delmon Young had some of the worst ABs on the team, including killing a potential rally against Lester with a GIDP that only netted one run. He should not start any more games if that’s the way he’s going to hit and I would have rather had Weeks on the team as he can PR and work some counts. Steve Pearce is a much better choice vs. LHP but I think Buck likes Young more unfortunately.
- The crowd was into the game from the start and there were only a few smatterings of “Let’s Go Red Sox” which were quickly silenced. There were even a couple of O-R-I-O-L-E-S, Orioles! cheers. And all the Sox got booed in their introductions and first plate appearances of the day with Ortiz getting booed in every appearance. Nice job today by the hometown fans.
- Hunter plunking Middlebrooks sure seemed intentional. I’m not complaining as he didn’t waste pitches to walk Middlebrooks and kept him from tying the game with his bat.
- Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo continue to be insufferable on NESN. Orsillo referred to Showalter being named AL Manager of the Year in 2012 when it was Bob Melvin that actually took that honor. It was just one of the many made up facts and inaccuracies about the Orioles during the game. These guys are lazy and don’t do their homework about the opposing teams, but all they care about are the Sox anyway because they are a bunch of homers.
- John Farrell’s worst decision was to PR for Napoli in the 8th with the rookie Jackie Bradley Jr.. Napoli had two walks in the game and a double and would have been a much more worthy opponent to face Hunter with runners on in the 9th. The Red Sox had Sizemore up with Napoli at 2B, and a base hit could have scored Napoli easily. They wound up stranding Bradley Jr., and he was overmatched vs. Hunter who left hittable pitches in the zone, but Bradley Jr. failed to see that and struck out looking to end the game.
The Orioles will be back in action on Wednesday night with Ubaldo Jimenez making his Orioles debut against John Lackey.