The injury to Brian Matusz put a damper on the first day of the season. But if we could put that aside for a minute, the O's performance last night was very encouraging. Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis led the offense, the Orioles made a few very solid plays on defense and Jeremy Guthrie pitched a brilliant game.
Guthrie did a great job using his secondary pitches to offset his, at times, mid-90s heater. It may have been one of the better nights ever for his "secondaries." It was nice to see him use his change-up more than we are used to seeing.
Buck Showalter said the right-hander shook off catcher Matt Wieters just twice and those two were in synch all night. The Orioles didn't get their second win last season until their 13th game. Tonight, they can get that second one out of the way a lot sooner.
Guthrie notes: The right-hander has now made back-to-back starts without allowing a run. In his final start of last season, in Game 160 against Detroit, he pitched eight scoreless frames. So over his past two starts, he has pitched 16 innings allowing just five hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts.
Guthrie did not allow a run in four of his starts last year. He has now allowed just two earned runs over his last three starts against Tampa, covering 21 innings for an ERA of 0.86.
Guthrie allowed just three hits in 26 atbats for a batting average against of just .115. He allowed two runners in an inning just once and did not allow any runner to reach third base. He is 5-7 with an ERA of 3.63 in 14 career starts versus the Rays. Since the 2010 All-Star break, Guthrie is 9-4 with an ERA of 2.55.
Johnny Damon, Evan Longoria and Manny Ramirez went 0-for-9 against Guthrie last night. That trio has now combined for just a .213 career average versus the O's right-hander.
Guthrie was 1-2 with an ERA of 6.43 in spring training.
The Price was not right this time: In beating David Price, the O's beat a pitcher that entered last night with a career mark of 16-3 and ERA of 2.67 against American League East opponents.The Rays are now 38-18 when Price starts in his career. He had been 4-0 with an ERA of 1.95 in five career starts against the Birds.
Opener notes: The Orioles opened their 58th season with a victory to improve to 36-22 all-time on opening day. They are 8-3 in openers since 2001 and are now 3-2 when playing Tampa in the first game. The O's ended a three-game losing streak when they open on the road and are now 9-9 all-time when the first game is away.
Tampa began its 14th season and is now 7-7 in openers, 4-3 at home.
Revisiting the Britton decision: It does surprise me that the Orioles changed course and have called up Zach Britton. If the plan was to start him in the minors, I thought they would stay with that plan despite the Matusz injury. But I guess the fact that Matusz is going to be out for weeks, not a few days, led the O's to switch course and go get Britton now.
I don't doubt, by the way, that Britton is major league ready. I just thought the debut would come, at the earliest, later this month. No doubt, all O's fans are excited to see this kid pitch. He's here now and maybe he will never return to the minors.