Adam Jones’ walkoff home run in 11th gives Orioles another Opening Day win
BALTIMORE | The Baltimore Orioles captured their eighth opener in a row under manager Buck Showalter as Adam Jones hit a walkoff homer in the last of the 11th off Fernando Rodney for a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Twins.
“Glad we got the win. We wanted to win it in nine (innings). Obviously it was important. Each one is more and more special,” Jones said.
“We pitched just a little bit better than they did. You have to win 99 more,” Showalter said. “Our guys want to win the division. I have a special affinity for the things (Jones) brings” to the game.”
The win, before a sellout crowd of 45,469 at Camden Yards, kicks off what could be the last year in Baltimore for stars like Jones and shortstop Manny Machado, both of whom could depart as free agents after the season or be traded if the Orioles fall out of contention. Showalter, general manager Dan Duquette and former closer Zach Britton are also in the final year of their contracts.
Machado, batting second, lined a double to right in his first at bat drawing more cheers than the four-plane flyover just before the first pitch.
Orioles catcher and No. 9 hitter Caleb Joseph laced a two-run triple in the last of the seventh to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead. The hit came off lefty reliever Zach Duke, who pitched for the Nationals in 2012 and 2013.
But reliever Brad Brach Britton is on the 60-day disabled list after right Achilles surgery gave up two runs with two outs in the last of the ninth as the Twins sent the game into extra innings.
Thursday was also the opener for rest of the majors, though the Nationals and Reds were pushed back to Friday at 4:10 p.m. due to inclement weather Thursday in Cincinnati.
“It is pretty neat that everyone is opening the same day,” said Orioles left fielder Trey Mancini, who lived near Logan’s Circle this winter while working out at Georgetown University.
The Orioles, 75-87 last season and last in the American League East, added pitcher Alex Cobb in the offseason.
The former Tampa Bay Rays hurler didn’t get the nod for Opening Day, but Showalter and the orange-and-black-clad fans at Camden Yards are hopeful Cobb will make a difference in a few weeks.
Cobb signed a four-year deal with the Orioles last week while fellow right-hander Andrew Cashner signed a two-year deal as a free agent pitcher Feb. 15. The team is still a heavy underdog in a division that includes the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays.
“The addition of Cobb and Cashner stabilizes their staff and make them more competitive,” said an American League scout who followed the Orioles during spring training and was in Baltimore for the opener.
Cashner is slated to start Saturday against the Twins while Cobb needs to build up arm strength. Cobb was 12-10 last season with Tampa Bay while Cashner was 11-11 in 28 starts with the Texas Rangers.
Seen and heard
Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., sitting back of home plate, got a nice ovation from the crowd before the last of the sixth. He is a link to the last Orioles team to win a World Series in 1983.
The biggest ovation for current Orioles players and coaches before the game was for first base coach Wayne Kirby, a fan favorite who spends a lot of time talking to fans along the foul line back of the Baltimore dugout. Kirby is a native of Williamsburg, Virginia, and is the brother of Terry Kirby, a former University of Virginia and NFL running back.
Nicole Sherry began her 12th season as the Orioles head groundskeeper. She is the second woman to ever hold the position in the majors; her staff got the field ready after seven inches of snow fell in Baltimore last week.