With the Boston Red Sox in the visitors dugout, the Baltimore Orioles were in for a tough game. The Red Sox are, after all, the defending world champions. It was not going to be an easy win. But the Orioles edged out the Red Sox by a score of 2-1.
The star of the game wasn't a name that Orioles fans were used to hearing. Nelson Cruz, a left fielder that the Orioles snagged up in the early spring, scored both of the runs for the Orioles. Cruz reached third base after being walked in the bottom of the second inning. He then scored on a double-play ball, putting the Orioles up 1-0. In the bottom of the seventh inning, the score was tied at 1. Cruz stepped confidently up to the plate and hit the first pitch over the wall for a solo home run.
photo credit: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Chris Tillman was the starter on the mound for the Orioles. He did not disappoint. He pitched five innings, giving up 7 hits and a solo home run. Tommy Hunter was called from the bullpen at the top of the ninth to get a save and secure the win for the Orioles.
There had been some controversy over moves that the Orioles made during the offseason. Many fans did not agree with the decision to release popular closer Jim Johnson. Yet after Hunter's save sealed the win for the Orioles, Johnson was far from their minds.
Now that Johnson is no longer with the team -- he signed with the Oakland Athletics -- Hunter is the Orioles' new closer. There are high expectations for him going forward with the season. Hunter seemed to have let the nerves get the best of him after his first few pitches in today's game. With his third pitch in the ninth inning, he hit the batter, putting one man on base. He struckout the next batter up, but allowed another batter onto base shortly after that. He was forced to pitch to David Ortiz, as walking him would've loaded the bases and therefore out of the question. But the Red Sox's slugger ended up flying out to left field. With two outs showing on the board, Hunter needed just one more to secure the win. And it came in perfect fashion. Hunter struck out Jackie Bradley Jr., securing the win for the Orioles.
The sellout crowd of 46,685 Baltimore fans appreciated the home victory on Opening Day. No doubt Orioles magic will be alive and well again during the 2014 season.