For the second time in as many years the Orioles have won their opening series after taking game two from the visiting Minnesota Twins tonight at Camden Yards.
The 8-2 drubbing of the Twins featured three solo shots from the heart of the Orioles lineup. Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters all connected for solo shots. Robert Andino had a huge two-out two-RBI double in the fourth and Ronny Paulino, making his Oriole debut tonight, had a 4-4 night scoring twice.
Tommy Hunter started for the O's tonight and showed the 31 thousand person crowd what he is here to do: pound the strike zone; let the defense do its job and give the team a chance to win. Hunter lost the strike zone for a bit in the fourth but never broke inducing key grounders to get out of jams. He cruised, more or less, through seven innings of shutout baseball. Well, not quite shutout. In the eighth inning thirdbaseman Mark Reynolds bobbled a grounder allowing Ben Revere to get on. Hunter would give up a couple singles to load the bases before being replaced with Pedro Strop. Strop responded well throwing fire and minimizing the damage. Two unearned runs would score on fielder's choices from Jamey Carroll and Joe Mauer before Strop struk out Morneau on a 95 MPH fastball. Luis Ayala came out for the Orioles in the ninth and he quickly set the Twins down in order to secure the Orioles' second win of the season.
The team looked great tonight, the offense was clicking on all cylinders, Hutner and the rest of the staff was more than serviceable and despite Reynolds' miscue in the eighth the defense was on-point. Also, the Orioles looked good tonight the Orioles debuted their new orange alternate jerseys that they will wear every Saturday game. I love the orange jerseys, they are bright, fresh and distinctive. Hopefully those are three adjectives we can use to describe the Orioles for the rest of the year.
The Orioles have gotten off to good starts in the past, just last year they rattled off six wins in their first seven games before falling off into the cellar of the AL East. But taking a closer look, the O's were hanging right around .500 until June and July when the wheels came completely off the proverbial cart. To me that speaks to a lack of depth in the rotation, bench and bullpen. With the additions of Paulino, Wilson Betemit, Ayala and Ryan Flaherty the O's hoped to have a deeper team that looks to mitigate that usual midseason slide.