Friday, April 1, 2011

A Great Start to the Season; Britton Makes His ML Debut on Sunday, Matusz to DL

What a night for the Orioles. They defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-1, in their season opener a little more than 900 miles away in St. Petersburg, FL.

A lot of people – fans and media alike – don’t believe that Jeremy Guthrie is an ace, much less a number one starter, but he looked every bit of it on Friday as he went eight shutout innings, struck out six and walked one. He only allowed three hits. Tampa’s only run of the game came off a Ben Zobrist homer that was given up by Baltimore reliever Jim Johnson.

If there’s anything we learned tonight, it’s this: the Orioles have no easy outs in their lineup.

The Orioles got their kicks in against one of the best pitchers in baseball, David Price and they gave him his first off of the season.

Both Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts drove in two runs each.

Markakis’ single drove in a run during the third inning and he added a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Brian Roberts hit a two-run triple (aided by a misplay by Johnny Damon at left field wall – in which he may have channeled Manny Ramirez) to give Baltimore a 4-0 lead.

It was a fairly crisp game by the Orioles; however, the Rays nearly made things very interesting in the eighth inning. B.J. Upton – who doubled in the frame – perhaps blew a golden opportunity for Tampa as he got picked off between second and third base.

However, it looked as J.J. Hardy interfered with the rundown as Upton suddenly stopped in front of him and was tagged by Wieters – who caught the game. Hardy threw down his glove in frustration, believing he allowed Upton to reach third, but the umpires called him. Both Upton a Tampa manager Joe Maddon vented, but the ruling stood.

That was a break the Orioles needed.

Before the game was even played, the Orioles got horrible news. It looks as if Brian Matusz will start the season on the DL – and it’s not a way the Orioles or fans wanted his season to begin.

According to the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck, “Matusz has inflammation in an area (the intercostal region) that is particularly troublesome for both pitchers and hitters and sometimes requires several weeks to calm down.”

He may be three weeks – if not even longer.

Chris Tillman will start Saturday against Tampa; however, Zach Britton – yes, him – will start Sunday after the team decided he would start in Triple-A Norfolk to start the season. Many of us who wanted him to start the season with the Orioles got our wish.

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