Well, we know one Orioles opening day streak will end today. They have won the last three opening days in walk-off fashion, the last two in extra innings. Adam Jones’ leadoff homer in the 11th last year at Camden Yards provided a 3-2 win over Minnesota. But as the visitors, the Orioles cannot get a walk-off today in the Bronx.
The Orioles, who went 47-115 last year, open their 66th season this afternoon in New York versus the Yankees, who went 100-62 in 2018. The Orioles have won on opening day eight straight seasons since a loss in 2010. They are 43-22 all-time in openers and 15-3 in their last 18 opening day games.
The Orioles are playing opening day at Yankee Stadium for the first time since 1962. That day the Orioles’ Billy Hoeft started versus Whitey Ford as New York won 7-6. Baltimore shortstop Jerry Adair went 3-for-3 with three RBIs.
Turning back to present day, Rio Ruiz, 24, will make his official O’s debut today and may be starting at third base. The Orioles claimed him off waivers from Atlanta Dec. 10. In 195 plate appearances with the Braves since 2016, he has hit .189/.282/.302 and he went 1-for-12 for the Braves last year.
After Tuesday’s workout at Camden Yards, Ruiz spoke about making his first opening day roster and possibly being in the lineup as well.
“Definitely excited,” said Ruiz. “Yankee Stadium on opening day. I don’t think it can get any better than that, honestly. I think we can accomplish a lot. They’ve given us an opportunity to grow and enhance our games in every aspect of it. I think a lot of guys will take that opportunity and run with it.”
In 130 games last season at Triple-A Gwinnett, Ruiz hit .269/.322/.390 with nine homers, 72 RBIs, 72 runs and an OPS of .711.
“It would definitely be humbling to start for an organization with such a rich history. To be a potential starter is a blessing within itself,” he said.
Another new, young Oriole is Drew Jackson. He was the No. 11 pick by Philadelphia last December in the Rule 5 draft and then was dealt to the Orioles for international money and cash considerations. When he gets into his first game, he’ll be making his major league debut.
“Unbelievable. It’s hard to put into words. I’ve been working for this my whole life and I know it will be very emotional and very exciting,” the 25-year-old Jackson said.
Jackson, a fifth-round pick in 2015 out of Stanford, played at Double-A Tulsa in the Dodgers organization in 2018. When the season ended he was rated as the No. 19 Los Angeles prospect. Over his minors career he has hit .269/.360/.399 with an OPS of .760 in 384 games.
A shortstop most of his pro career, Jackson played several games in the outfield this spring and begins this season in a super-utility type of role.
“I like the phrase super utility. It’s fun,” said Jackson. “I think I can play anywhere, and I’m proud of myself for that. Ready to go out there wherever they put me.”
Jackson joins Richie Martin as Rule 5 picks from last December that make the Orioles opening day roster. They became close friends during their time in Florida. They could look to each other to understand what it’s like and what they were going through as Rule 5 players.
“Yes, 100 percent. Richie is awesome. We roomed together in Sarasota and we are going to get a place here,” Jackson said. “We pushed each other. I think some doubted we would both make the team, and we both did it, so that’s awesome.
Jackson enjoyed the chemistry in the Orioles clubhouse in Florida and expects it to stay the same when the season begins.
“I’m excited. Everyone here gets along really well,” Jackson said. “The older guys have been great to us. So far, the chemistry is there. That is what you want with a team. From my experience in the minors and back to college, the teams that have won the most were the closest. So we are going in the right direction right there.
“We’ve played high-energy baseball. I know people don’t have the highest expectation for this team. But if we come together and each do our jobs, you could be surprised.”
On the mound: Today’s pitching matchup features O’s right-hander Andrew Cashner (4-15, 5.29 ERA last year) versus New York right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (12-6, 3.75 ERA last year). In seven career starts against the Yankees, Cashner is 2-3 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.147 WHIP. Last April 5, in his only career start at Yankee Stadium, he got a win, allowing just two hits and one run over six innings.
Tanaka is 4-3 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.190 WHIP in 12 career games against the Orioles. He is making his fourth career opening day start, the most by any Japanese-born pitcher in major league history. In the previous three opening day starts, Tanaka went 0-3 with a 9.49 ERA from 2015-2017 and the Yankees lost each game.
New radio show debuts: I’ll be hosting a postgame radio show after most games this year on the Orioles’ flagship radio station, 105.7 FM The Fan. We’ll be providing analysis, highlights, interviews, minor league updates and much more, and taking your phone calls as well. So tune in about a half hour after today’s game for “Extra Innings with Steve Melewski.”