The 2011 season for the Orioles started with a 4-1 victory over the defending American League East champion Tampa Rays. With how the O's finished the 2010 season, and buoyed by the winter additions, optimism and anxiousness have been two commonly used adjectives by fans of the orange & black. The on-field results tonight should only increase that optimism. (Though the news that Matusz could miss 4-6 weeks certainly dampens the enthusiasm.)
1) Guthrie was attacking with his fastball, beautifully freezing Upton for the strikeout in the 2nd. The punch-out of Jaso in the 6th was also impressive. In addition to his fastball, he was showing excellent secondary pitches tonight having success with the change and overhand curve. I really liked that he was able to keep the hitters in front of Longoria off the bases. Guthrie went 8 innings, allowed just 3 hits, 1 bb, with 6 k's.
2) Guerrero with the first hit of the Orioles' season during his first official at-bat in an O's uniform. On his groundout to 3rd in the top of the 6th, he showed good bat speed. In the American League East when you face lefties the caliber of Price, Lester, Sabathia, and Romero, the addition of right-handed hitters like Vlad, Lee, and Reynolds has to help.
3) Hardy showing the ability to go opposite field with power was impressive. Followed that up with a walk, immediately illustrating the additional offense the O's will get out of SS this year.
3a) How about Hardy's play over the middle in the 7th? 360 spin, and an arm with accuracy? That was sweet.
4) Watching Roberts work counts and set-up pitchers really is a joy. (Was also a joy seeing Damon in LF as opposed to Crawford.)
5) Markakis picked Roberts up in the 3rd by knocking in the first Oriole run with the two-out opposite field hit. The sac fly in the 5th to get the fourth run in is how you win games.
6) Nothing special, but Scott did have a decent running catch. A reminder that he is not going to be a total slouch in the field.
7) Wieters has struggled so far in his career against LHP, was good seeing him with that strong knock against Price. Just ate up Brignac. In the 7th he had another good ab, taking Price to the warning track.
8) At the end of the 6th, the O's had Price up over 90 pitches, 103 after 7.
9) In a moment that might go unnoticed in the box score, Lee made a play on a Damon line-drive in the 6th. Zobrist was already on, so if Lee doesn't come up with that play, Longoria would be up with a chance to get Tampa right back into the game.
10) After allowing a HR on his first pitch of the '11 season, give Johnson credit for coming back and getting the next 3 outs. Was an interesting move by Showalter going with Johnson, a nod to how Johnson probably had the best Spring of any Baltimore reliever.
1) Tip the hat to Price and his over-powering stuff, but each of Jones, Scott, Reynolds, and Wieters helped Price out by expanding their strike zones during that run of successive k's.
1a) Jones did that again in the 6th.
2) I gave credit to Roberts for working the count on his 2nd at-bat, but with a runner on 3rd and 1 out you want to see some contact made.
1) None. Tonight was a great way to start a season.
With Matusz being forced to the DL, it has been announced that Chris Tillman will get the start opposing James Shields. You would love to find a way to grab the series win tomorrow.
It has also now been announced that Britton will make his major league debut on Sunday. Britton certainly looks physically ready, but it is an interesting decision to promote him now. Look for further discussion on the Orioles Hangout.com forums about the decision to promote Britton and lose out the chance to gain an additional year of organizational control.
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