Cruz with big homer, Hunter the save as O’s win opening day thriller

Nelson Cruz was signed by the Orioles to add even more pop to a power-laden team. He delivered big for his new team today.

In his third O’s plate appearance, Cruz homered to left on the first pitch leading off the seventh to give the O’s a 2-1 win today over Boston. He hit it out against Jon Lester and is now 11-for-24 in his career with three homers off the Boston left-hander.

Lester was 14-0 against the Orioles through the 2011 season. He is 1-4 since and Boston is 1-7 in his eight starts against Baltimore since then.

Today’s attendance of 46,685 was the 23rd consecutive opening day sellout at Camden Yards.

The Orioles bullpen came up big today. Tommy Hunter got the save in the ninth, stranding two runners. He hit a batter and gave up a single, but got Jackie Bradley Jr. looking at strike three to end it as the crowd roared its approval.

Earlier, Zach Britton pitched two scoreless innings, getting six groundball outs. Evan Meek got two outs, but walked two in the eighth. Brian Matusz came on to get out of that jam and keep the O’s ahead by one.

Boston went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position today and stranded 12 on the bases.

The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Cruz drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on a Matt Wieters single. Cruz scored on Delmon Young’s 4-3-6 double play grounder.

Boston tied it on a Grady Sizemore solo homer in the top of the fourth. Sizemore was playing in his first big league game since Sept. 22, 2011, and that was his first homer since July 15, 2011 when he hit one off the Orioles’ Jake Arrieta.

Chris Tillman gave up just the one run, but pitched just five innings. As usual, Boston hitters worked the count well and fouled off several pitches. Tillman gave up seven hits and the one run with one walk and four strikeouts. He threw 104 pitches and never had an inning with fewer than 18 pitches.

Tillman did lower his career ERA against Boston from 2.74 to 2.67 in 12 starts.

The Orioles won their fourth straight opener, improving to 39-22 all-time on opening day. This was their 11th win in the last 14 openers. The O’s are 6-2 when they face Boston on opening day.

The Orioles are now 25-13 against Boston since the start of the 2012 season and have won 21 of the last 32 games between these teams.

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