Opening Day: Orioles 4, Twins 2

Opening Day!

The Good:

  • Jake Arrieta was tremendous (by O’s standards – he really was good though). The fastball and sinker were 93-96; the curve was a real hammer (got two swings and misses, plus a few in there for called strikes); and the slider was almost a cutter (unlike in previous years), thrown hard at 86-92 with less break (two whiffs as well, plus back-doored one for a strike-out looking). The control wavered a couple times, but he only gave up one free pass. And he kept the ball on the ground to boot, fielding five all by himself (including starting a double play). Final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K.
  • Jim Johnson picked up the save, sitting 93-94 with that big moving sinker. Made things interesting with a walk and a single after striking out the first batter he faced (swinging at a nice change-up), but got the job done.
  • JJ Hardy did a nice job working the count and drawing a walk his first time up, and came around to score the O’s first run of the season (also singled and scored again later, and drew a second walk).
  • That run was scored on an opposite-field home run by Nick Markakis. It was Nick’s first opposite field homer since 2008; he tends to just serve pitches away into left for singles (perhaps because swinging with more authority could lead to more whiffs/K’s), so it was nice to see him really put something into that swing. Then, his next time up, he drew a walk! Then he worked a full count, and drove the pitch to the warning track for a triple! (Nick had a game last year with a double, homer, and walk, so this isn’t exactly unprecedented. But still awesome!)

The Bad:

  • Troy Patton was brought in to face the middle of the Twins’ order in the 9th; he walked Mauer and then struck out Morneau (though his control was still spotty). Then he was left in to face Josh Willingham (which didn’t sound like a great match-up to me, though Willingham doesn’t have huge platoon splits) who hit a two-run homer.
  • Only three base-runners other than Hardy and Markakis (double by Jones, singles by Betemit and Andino).
  • Mark Reynolds was a little adventurous in the field; he made a nice play on the first ball hit to him, but the second one went by and the third was fielded but thrown off-track (and great dive by Chris Davis while somehow keeping his foot on the bag prevented the error).

The Final:

Great game. Between Arrieta and the early Markakis homer, the O’s had things more or less locked up all the way (didn’t even sweat the 9th). One win down, 69 to go to get to 70 for the first time since 2006.