Three hits on opening day? So, what else is new?
Jones has recorded three-hit games in three of his six openers with the Orioles. He’s 10-for-19 (.526) during that stretch.
The Orioles were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position when Jones batted in the seventh. He fell behind 0-2 to Rays reliever Jake McGee and ripped a two-run double to left-center field on an upper-90s fastball.
“Look at the good side, we put ourselves in a lot of opportunities. We just didn’t get the hit,” he said.
“We look at the bright side. We’re getting all these opportunities, we’re going to get a hit eventually. Just, fortunately, it was an 0-2 pitch and it was a good pitch to hit. Just put a good swing on it.”
A few players mentioned how it felt like a playoff atmosphere today, but Tropicana Field grew silent as those runs scored.
“With them boys, they come out hacking,” Jones said. “They never give in, they never give up. The way (Joe) Maddon manages is unbelievable. And their players, similar to us. We go out there and they go out there and they give it their all until that last out is made.”
What about all the talk that the Orioles didn’t get a middle-of-the-order bat over the winter and didn’t do enough to improve the club.
“We don’t care what anyone thinks,” Jones said. “Thank you.”
You have to wonder what Chris Davis was thinking when McGee walked Matt Wieters intentionally to get to him. Davis belted a three-run homer on the first pitch.
“You never want to be the guy (behind) the guy getting walked,” Jones said. “It’s like saying, ‘All right, we think you’re an easier out than this guy,’ so you take it upon yourself to go out and get a big knock. And he went out there first pitch and tomahawked a 98-mph fastball at his neck. That’s CD.”
Davis understood the strategy.
“I’m pretty sure they looked at who was on deck when they did it, so you can’t blame them for playing the match-ups right there,” he said. “McGee’s got a great arm. He throws hard. I was able to get him early, obviously.
“I think after throwing four balls right there, I thought that he was going to try to get ahead with a strike and I just tried to get the barrel to it, and he supplied the rest. He’s a power guy who throws hard, he’s got good stuff. You have to get to him early.”
The Orioles were due to produce in the clutch. They hadn’t done it since Wieters’ two-run homer off David Price in the first inning.
“Well, we were facing a guy who was pretty good,” Davis said. “I think we made him work today. We saw a lot of pitches early on. Jonesy was being selfish getting all the hits out there. I think that helped us later in the game to see as many pitches as we did. We were able to hang in there.
“We did miss some opportunities. I had an opportunity with the bases loaded and I grounded into a double play. Another opportunity with a runner on and nobody out, got to get that guy over. But first day, it’s good to come away with the win. Obviously, we have some things we want to work on.”
Davis also was asked about the criticisms that the Orioles didn’t bring in a power bat for the middle of the order.
“I just think we feel that in-house, we have the same ability to do what we did last year,” he said. “We have the same group of guys. We have the experience that we didn’t have last year. We’re very confident with the group that we have, not to mention the fact that we have good chemistry here. That goes a long way in this game. When you’re playing six or seven months out of the year, you better like who you’re working with.”
Davis, like everyone else in the clubhouse, is glad to be working again with Brian Roberts and Nolan Reimold, who combined for four hits today.
“I think it’s huge,” he said. “It was tough to see Nolan go out the way he did last year. He was playing hard. That’s what you ask from everybody. It was kind of a freak injury. B-Rob has been battling injuries for years. It’s good to finally get those guys back. But I think we had a good idea in spring training who we were going to go with toward the middle (of spring) and it’s good to get everybody out there and kind of meshing together.”