As Adam Jones watched Minnesota reliever Casey Fien issue an intentional walk to Nick Markakis in the bottom of the eighth inning today, he turned toward the visiting dugout and smiled at Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. Gardenhire smiled back at him.
"I love the dude, I love his competitiveness," Jones said. "He's a great manager. And he always smiles at me."
Jones got the last laugh, grounding a bases-loaded single into left field to tie the score at 5-5. Tyler Robertson replaced Fien, and Chris Davis drove the first pitch over the left field fence for a grand slam.
"It's an opportunity," Jones said. "He walks Markakis to get to me. Doesn't make me happy. Makes me kind of mad and want to get him. And I'm just glad I was able to do it."
The Orioles rallied from deficits of 4-2 and 5-4 and completed their comeback with a five-run eighth.
"We're putting ourselves in big spots, we're putting ourselves in position to get the hit," Jones said. "We had a chance with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fifth inning and we didn't get it done, but we put ourselves in the situation to get it done. There are times where we've started an inning with two outs. In Tampa, we had a lot of two-out runs late.
"This lineup, top to bottom, we want to come out swinging. We can drive the ball from top to bottom and we're just having some fun."
Nobody is having more of a blast than Davis, whose 16 RBIs in the first four games shatters the major league record of 12 shared by three players, including former Orioles catcher Charles Johnson.
Has Jones ever seen a player on such a roll?
"I don't think anybody has," he replied. "Whatever he's done in these first four games has been historic. If you haven't seen it, I know I haven't seen it."
So how is Davis doing it?
"See ball, hit ball," Jones said. "It's hard, but that's what he's doing. He's comfortable. He's able to show up 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, he's in the lineup. I think that confidence at this level is a big help, and he's showing why we traded for him."
Davis isn't driving every ball 450 feet to right field. He almost seemed to flick at the Robertson pitch and drop it into the left field seats.
"I mean, look at him. The guy is popped," Jones said. "You put him in the Grand Canyon, he'll hit it out. Whatever he's doing, stick to it. Show up tomorrow and do it again."
The Orioles will show up on Saturday and they'll try to top today's dramatics.
"That's our style, late innings," Jones said. "That's the way we play. We keep it close and somebody at the end is going to have to get a big hit. And today, it was CD."