O’s Fall 4-3 In Dramatic Opening Day

W – Rafael Soriano (1-0)     L – Mike Gonzalez (0-1)

Its a new season but last night felt like the same old Orioles. With the new faces came the same results. Some bad baserunning, untimely hitting, and blowing late leads seemed to the theme in 2009 and here we go again. I must say that last night didn’t exactly feel like opening day. We started a day after everyone else had already played their first game. We opened up on the road, at night, in the ugly dome that is Tropicana Field. Even the crowd didn’t feel like an opening day crowd. It was a rare sell out for the Rays but it just seemed like a game in the middle of the summer. To make matters worse, for some reason the Rays decided to have pre-game fireworks… inside a dome where the smoke has nowhere to go! The smoke lingered around the field for pretty much the whole game. I have a feeling somebody woke up this morning without a job..

But back to the game. Kevin Millwood made his Orioles debut and he had a pretty good game. Tampa Bay made him work a little more than he probably wanted, taking alot of pitches and fouling off some to keep at bats alive, but he held them to one run over the first five innings. You could tell he was tired at the end of the 5th but Dave Trembley sent him out there to start the 6th anyway. He immediately gave up a very long homerun to Evan Longoria. The ball traveled an estimated 473 feet and it might’ve been the farthest hit baseball I’ve ever seen live. Carlos Pena followed with a bunt single, smartly countering against the dramatic lefty shift. Millwood was pulled after he let another batter reach. Matt Albers came in and did a tremendous job to escape the inning without allowing another run. He immediately got a double play ball then struck out Sean Rodriguez to end the inning. He started the 7th but was pulled after allowing a single and striking out a batter. I wasn’t a believer in Albers coming into the season but if he can be consistent and pitch like he did last night his job security will be fine. Will Ohman followed him and got two quick outs, although both balls were hit hard. The last one was a tough play for new third baseman Miguel Tejada who showed off his arm to get the out. Jim Johnson struggled in spring training but he looked great last night. He was throwing as hard as 97 mph and had a 1-2-3 inning including a strikeout. Then came the eventful 9th.. Mike Gonzalez made his O’s debut by striking out the first battter he faced. Unfortunately that would be the only out he recorded. It followed with a hard hit single, a very long double that looked like it was going to leave the park, an intentional walk, and a double laced by Carl Crawford to end the game. Not a good start for the lefty. He’ll get plenty of chances to redeem himself, we didn’t give up a draft pick and spend $12 million on the guy to give up on him after one appearance.

The hitting was fine except for their inability to come up with anything with runners on base. Our three runs came off of three solo homeruns by Adam Jones (who also doubled and singled), Luke Scott (also walked), and Matt Wieters (also singled). Nick Markakis doubled and walked twice (twice more than he did in 63 ST at bats), Cesar Izturis singled twice (and stole a base), and Felix Pie doubled. Even though Garrett Atkins also doubled I came away feeling like hes not the answer at first base. He seemed to have trouble defensively and looked over matched at the plate at times. On top of that he was thrown out at the plate trying to score from third on a groundball right at the third baseman. I don’t know if he was running on contact on his own or on coaches orders but it was a terrible idea. Brian Roberts looked uncomfortable at the plate, no doubt because of missing most of the spring with a herniated disk in his back, going hitless in five at bats. Miguel Tejada also went hitless in five at bats but he hit the ball hard on a few occasions but they were right at people. Overall I like what I saw last night and I’m encouraged by our team moving forward. Tampa Bay is a very good team that alot of people are predicting will win the division.

Player of the game: Adam Jones (3-5, R, double, HR, RBI)

The Orioles will get right back at it tonight when Jeremy Guthrie (0-0, -.–) tries to forget about his spring training against Matt Garza (0-0, -.–) for the Rays.

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