Markakis on his homer, Arrieta, the fans and more

Nick Markakis got the Orioles off to a fast start today, delivering a two-run homer off Carl Pavano in the last of the first inning as the Orioles beat the Twins 4-2 on opening day.

Markakis went 2-for-3 and had a triple and three RBIs and it was a great sign to prove he is healthy for the season after being limited early in camp. He had abdominal surgery in January.

He said hitting the homer was nice, but also noted that he hit it out to left center field.

Nick Markakis talks with Gary Thorne after contributing 3 RBIs to the Birds’ 4-2 win

“If you look at my home runs, I don’t think I had an opposite field home run last year at all. I was just up there looking for a pitch to hit and he left one over the plate. This is a good way to start the season,” he said.

Markakis was asked if he is making any other adjustments to help him drive the ball with more power as he did today.

“I’d like to see myself be more consistent with my stance. I don’t want to have 30,000 different stances during the season. I want to have one stance and build on that.

“When you have a guy like Jake on the mound and he throws the way he did today, you know, just score some runs for him and he did the rest. He went out and pounded the zone. It starts with pitching. With his pitches, when he is throwing strikes, he’s as good as it gets up there,” he said.

Markakis said before the game that he felt completely healthy after his surgery from a few months back and maybe this proved that today.

“That is what spring training brought. The trainers and coaches did a great job handling me. My rehab was great, no setbacks. It leads to opening day, that is what we were shooting for and here I am.”

The Orioles got seven shutout innings from Jake Arrieta and Markakis said, no doubt, the starters are a big key to this season.

“That’s it, pitching and defense. I think we have a great group of guys on our pitching staff. We have a bunch of bulldogs out there. They’ll give you everything they’ve got for as long as they can go. I don’t even know who is throwing tomorrow, but you build on it from there. Those guys set the tone for each other. Jake came out today on top of his game.”

Markakis, who today made his sixth consecutive opening day start, got a huge ovation during pregame introductions. In his postgame press conference he praised the fans for staying with the team during 14 seasons of losing.

“It is an awesome feeling. I think we have the greatest fans in baseball and I really do believe that. Buck has said it. It’s just a matter of putting a product on the field that the fans want to see. That is what we are shooting for. It’s a great baseball city. All we have is baseball and football. We owe a lot to our fans,” Markakis said.

He became the first Oriole today to homer on his first at-bat of the season since John Knott on April 17, 2007 and the first to do it on opening day since Luis Matos did it off Barry Zito on April 4, 2005.

The first-inning blast was his ninth-career homer against Minneosta and he recorded an hit on opening day for the fifth season in a row.

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