Who stood out in the Orioles’ 3-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Opening Day?
In the spirit of hockey’s “three stars” system with the addition of home plate for honorable mentions and other notes, we go around the bases after the first game of the 2016 season.
1st — Matt Wieters wasn’t having a stellar game after leaving five runners on base in his first four trips to the plate, but his first-pitch single off Kevin Jepsen in the bottom of the ninth plated the winning run, giving the Orioles their first victory over Minnesota since Aug. 31, 2014. It was the three-time All-Star catcher’s 700th career hit and the eighth walk-off hit of his career. After an unsettling spring due to a scare with his surgically-repaired elbow in mid-March, Wieters has plenty to play for on a one-year contract and the Orioles want to get as much value as they can from his $15.8 million salary for 2016.
2nd — Adam Jones went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts, but his major contribution came in the bottom of the fifth when he doubled home the first two runs of the ballgame and gave a rain-weary crowd something to cheer about after two lengthy delays. The center fielder also provided the icing on the cake — or pie? — for Wieters’ heroics by bringing back the Orioles’ famous pie-in-the-face celebration that was supposedly outlawed in the spring.
3rd — Tyler Wilson couldn’t have figured he would factor heavily into the season-opening win, but his three scoreless frames after a 70-minute rain delay at the end of the second put the Orioles in position to take the lead in the fifth. The right-hander helped preserve a bullpen that faced the prospects of pitching seven innings in the opening game because of the rain. Buck Showalter was impressed with Wilson’s poise after giving up a double to Eduardo Escobar on the first pitch he threw, and the 26-year-old paved the way for a strong performance from the bullpen except for Mychal Givens’ struggles in the seventh.
Home — Mark Trumbo became the fourth player to collect at least four hits in his Orioles debut, joining Chris Parmelee (2015), Ronny Paulino (2012), and Sam Horn (1990). Not known for his speed, the right fielder also stole a base in the first inning after not stealing one in all of 2015. … Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard collected hits in his first two major league at-bats and scored the first run of the season for the Orioles. He was the first Oriole to collect a hit in his first major league at-bat since Jonathan Schoop on Sept. 25, 2013. … Before rain cut his start short, Chris Tillman struck out five of the six hitters he faced in two perfect innings. The right-hander struck out five or more hitters in just 11 of his 31 starts last season. … The Orioles have now won six straight Opening Day games and are 13-3 in season openers since 2001. The club is now 18-7 in home openers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.