This time Mike Gonzalez got the save, although it was a very shaky one. He got Ben Zobrist to fly out with the bases loaded and two outs as the O’s beat Tampa 5-4.
Gonzalez, who fanned and walked two, threw 26 pitches, just 12 for strikes.
The kid won another one: Brian Matusz picked up his 6th Major League win in just his 9th big league start. He gave up two runs over five innings, walking five, fanning seven and throwing 97 pitches.
He is 2-0 in two career starts vs. Tampa at the Trop. He threw first-pitch strikes to just nine of 20 batters, but gave up just two hits in 14 Rays at bats, both singles.
Steve’s analysis: They had to have this one. One can only imagine what an 0-3 mark with two blown saves for the team’s new closer would have meant.
It sure would have put a damper on Opening Day in Baltimore. But, despite missing the strike zone with 14 of his 26 pitches in the 9th, Mike Gonzalez did get the save and the O’s have their first win.
Matt Wieters is off to a 6 for 12 start, Brian Roberts got his first two hits and Garrett Atkins had two big RBI.
The key to this game was that each team’s pitching pretty much handed the other club a major rally. But Matusz held Tampa to two runs in the 3rd while the Orioles scored four with a rally in the 6th. Matt Albers had a solid two-inning stint which got the O’s bullpen to its late-inning guys for the 8th and 9th.
Close to the vest: The O’s have played three straight one-run games to begin the year. Last year, 44 percent of O’s games were decided by one or two runs and the club went 29-43 in those.
He got a clutch hit: Garrett Atkins went 2 for 4 with a two-run single during the O’s four-run 6th. He is 4 for 12 with 3 RBI on the year.
Nolan Reimold hit a solo homer and Matt Wieters was 2 for 4 with an RBI. Wieters is 6 for 12 on the year and is the first O’s catcher to ever begin the year with three straight multi-hit games.
Brian Roberts, after an 0 for 10 start, went 2 for 4 with a single, double and stolen base.
The O’s, who went 3 for 21 batting with runners in scoring position the first two games, went 3 for 11 tonight.
Through three games, O’s starters have pitched to an ERA of 3.86 (7ER in 16 1/3). The starters have thrown 100, 95 and 97 pitches. The Baltimore offense has scored 11 runs so far with a team batting average of .243. The O’s had 12 extra-base hits vs. Tampa, eight doubles and four solo homers.
The O’s now lead the all-time series with Tampa, 105-102.
Friday’s home opener begins at 3:05 p.m. with Brad Bergesen facing Toronto’s Brandon Morrow. Gates open at Noon and Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell will throw out the first pitches.