With the Orioles falling 7-3 to Boston in the home opener and first game with fans at Oriole Park at Camden Yards since Sept. 22, 2019, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Years from now, you’ll forget the loss, but we’ll remember the reception from fans, both teams, and the umpires for Trey Mancini as he played in Baltimore for the first time since beating cancer. Mancini said he still had goosebumps thinking about it after the game. He wasn’t alone.
2. Mancini admitted he’s been pressing, which is understandable for someone dealing with such emotions and playing his first real games in over a year. While certainly touched by the adoration, he has to feel relief to get the Camden Yards return out of the way and just settle into playing.
3. Thursday brought the good and bad with Ryan Mountcastle, who hit a laser into the right-center seats in the first inning before his defensive miscues cost the Orioles in the sixth. His last two games have been brutal defensively, but patience is warranted for someone with little outfield experience.
4. Matt Harvey pitched better than his line indicated as he shook off a rocky first to retire 13 of 15 before exiting in the sixth after Rafael Devers singled and Mountcastle failed to track Christian Vazquez’s pop fly. Harvey struck out five and recorded 10 swinging strikes over 84 pitches.
5. The Orioles bullpen didn’t offer much help as Shawn Armstrong had a third straight poor outing to begin the season. The 30-year-old posted a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings last season and needs to get on track to avoid putting too much pressure on Tanner Scott and Cesar Valdez.
6. Of course, Baltimore managed just three runs and struck out 14 times to set a major league record with at least 13 strikeouts in five straight games. Strikeouts are part of today’s game, but that’s absurd. An astute observer noted the Orioles haven’t even needed Chris Davis to do it.
7. While you hope some others warm up sooner than later, this lineup is really going to struggle to score runs when the heart of the order including Mancini, Anthony Santander, and Mountcastle isn’t producing. Santander’s .605 OPS is the best of the trio through the first week.
8. Cedric Mullins has at least one hit in each of the first seven games and earlier this week became only the third Oriole — the others being Eddie Murray in 1982 and Adam Jones in 2013 — to record 11 or more hits over the first five games of a season. Impressive company.
9. Speaking of good company, Mullins reminds me of a lefty-throwing Mike Devereaux in center field. What the 26-year-old may lack in arm strength he makes up for with outstanding range. His long sprint from right-center to make a diving catch in left-center to open the fifth inning was impressive.
10. The umpires got the call right, but Brandon Hyde getting tossed sticking up for Rio Ruiz is the kind of thing that gains respect with players. Mancini said it was “awesome” to see Hyde so fired up after Ruiz was charged a strike on a pitch that hit his elbow.
11. Any player can have a bad week, but Freddy Galvis is just 3-for-26 with 10 strikeouts and has looked really shaky with his throws from the shortstop position. That’s a rough way to start with a new club.
12. The announced attendance was just 10,150, but the sight of the first fans filing into the seating bowl brought a big smile to my face. The cheers, boos, and buzz of the crowd were sorely missed, and the fans’ return was an uplifting step toward the normalcy we all crave.