Davis saves O's Opening Day with grand-slam

Davis saves O's Opening Day with grand-slam
April 5, 2013, 6:45 pm
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Davis leaving teammates speechless


BALTIMORE – Chris Davis’ place in Orioles history was secured last May. Now, he may be close to being immortalized.

No longer will he be remembered solely for a 17th inning win out of the bullpen. Davis is becoming a legitimate fairy tale.

Davis hit a grand-slam home run to win Friday’s Opening Day game. That capped off an astounding first four games. He’s the first major leaguer to begin a season with 16 RBIs, and just the fourth Oriole to homer in his first four games, and he’s hit 11 home runs in his past 11 games over the past two seasons. Besides the home run, he had a sacrifice fly.

It’s a performance that may only be appreciated years from now.

The eighth-inning grand slam propelled the Orioles to a 9-5 win over the Minnesota Twins before 46,653 at Oriole Park.

The day started without a first pitch. Instead the Orioles honored Earl Weaver by leaving a ball on the mound. It ended with the fans marveling about Davis.

“I feel comfortable, kind of the same thing that was going on toward the end of last year. I felt like I was relaxed and being patient in the box. That's the only thing I can really say about it. I don't feel like I have anything magical to [say]. I feel comfortable and I feel like I'm being patient,” Davis said.

Manager Buck Showalter, who’s seemingly seen everything in baseball, admitted that Davis’ hot streak has left even him without an explanation.

“I’m glad he’s on our side,” Showalter said.
  
With the Orioles (3-1) trailing 5-4 and having left 10 runners on base in the first seven innings, Nolan Reimold led off with a single off Casey Fien (0-1). Nate McLouth singled, and Manny Machado bunted them to second and third. Nick Markakis was walked intentionally. Adam Jones’ single drove in Reimold for the tie, and Davis’ home run off Tyler Robertson brought a crowd that was frustrated into a veritable frenzy.

As Markakis was walked, he took a moment to play a mental game with Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire.

“I smiled at Gardenhire and he smiled back. I love the dude, I love his competitiveness. He's a great manager. And he always smiles at me. It's an opportunity. He walks Markakis to get to me. Doesn't make me happy. Makes me kind of mad and want to get them. And I'm just glad I was able to do it," Jones said.

Luis Ayala (1-0) pitched 1 2/3 innings for the win. 

In the first four games, the Orioles have scored 29 runs and played four intense games. Showalter noted that the team had a trying series in Tampa, and were happy to be home after a long spring training.

“I think they needed the lift from the fans today,” Showalter said. “It’s one of those I really want us to deliver days of the year.”

Jake Arrieta got his third consecutive Opening Day start, and he didn’t exploit the opportunity. All spring, Showalter mixed in praise of Arrieta with criticism for his incessant nibbling, his inability to go well into games because of the waste.

Arrieta allowed four runs in the fourth, and after the Orioles caught up, he gave up the go-ahead run before leaving.

“There’s things I would have liked to do a little bit better, established a few more things earlier in the game and minimize the damage. That’s the thing for me, to not let the inning get out of hand like it did in the fourth,” Arrieta said.

In the fourth, Minnesota (2-2) scored four runs with two out on Chris Parmelee’s RBI single, a two-run triple to Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar’s RBI single.

The Orioles’ first came in the third on Machado’s RBI single.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Orioles loaded the bases and scored on a fielder’s choice by J.J. Hardy. In the fifth, the Orioles tied the score on Davis’ sacrifice fly.

Arrieta retired the side in order in the fifth, but in the sixth, he left after a walk to Ryan Doumit and a single by Plouffe. Troy Patton allowed an RBI single to Dozier, and the Orioles were trailing 5-4.

In five-plus innings, Arrieta was charged with five runs and seven hits, He walked two and struck out five.

NOTES: Showalter said he estimates that Brian Roberts, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list before the game, will miss three to four weeks with a strained right hamstring. Roberts will return to Sarasota, Fla. on Sunday to begin rehabilitation.

-Chris Tillman will be activated off the disabled list on Saturday to pitch against Minnesota’s Vance Worley. A move will be made then.

- Hardy, Jones and Wieters received their Gold Gloves before the game.