Jones jolts O's to walk-off win in 11th
BALTIMORE -- Orioles center fielder Adam Jones caught Thursday's first pitch. And then he crushed the last one.
Jones, one of several big-name Baltimore free agents at the end of the year, hit a walk-off homer off new Twins closer Fernando Rodney in the 11th inning to lift the O's to a 3-2 Opening Day win over Minnesota.
The Orioles beat the Blue Jays on a walk-off homer by Mark Trumbo in last season's opener and defeated the Twins on a walk-off single by Matt Wieters to begin 2016. They are the first team to open three straight seasons with a walk-off win, according to Elias.
"One of the biggest things that Adam's brought here is he posts up," manager Buck Showalter said of the popular long-time Oriole.
"Adam, he's just been a guy. One of the first guys I spent some time with when I got here was Adam. So, obviously, I've got a little special affinity for the things he brings. I understand him and the rough edges we all have, but he's very consistent. Especially with his baseball. You know what you're getting every night. That's a lot of games to not ever walk up the runway and not feel like he wasn't ready to play."
Jones, who was hit by teammates Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop with shaving-cream pies, grinned at his postgame win tradition -- pieing -- being turned on him.
"I knew they were coming with something," Jones said, shaving-cream remnants still visible in his goatee. "I'm glad they continued our legacy on with that. I won't complain about that."
There was nothing to complain about in the home clubhouse as the O's continued their recent success in season openers. The victory, which improves the Orioles to 8-0 in season openers under manager Buck Showalter, featured an early duel between between Twins righty Jake Odorizzi and Orioles starter Dylan Bundy and plenty of highlight-reel defense.
"Dylan was the key to the game. Dylan was outstanding," Showalter said. "He had been at six, so that was his first time with seven ups, so he maintained his stuff through the outing. That's a tough lineup to go through for a right-handed pitcher."
Bundy outlasted Odorizzi, needing just 88 pitches to get through seven scoreless innings in his first Opening Day nod. The righty, who got a huge lift from Gentry's outfield defense, struck out seven and scattered five hits.
Did he view the outing as perhaps setting the tone for a rotation that needs to improve from last year?
"I don't look at it that way, but it's good to get the season out on the right foot," Bundy said. "It's all that matters right now is wins, and that's what we're trying to do."
Down 2-0, Orioles closer Brad Brach struggled with command and let a pair of walks and a bloop single tie things up. After Eddie Rosario's one-out infield single and a walk, Brach struck out Eduardo Escobar. But Max Kepler fought back from an 0-2 count to walk the bases loaded before Molitor made the move for Robbie Grossman. The two-run single into shallow center forced the O's to dip into their 'pen again, with Showalter tabbing Mychal Givens to record the final out of the ninth.
After Odorizzi exited with six scoreless frames, Caleb Joseph broke through the scoreless tie with a two-out, two-run single on new Twins player Zach Duke.
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Joseph cashes in: After a pair of wild pitches and an intentional walk put Duke in a predicament, Joseph punched a ball into center field to break the scoreless tie. It marked Joseph's third career triple, and the O's catcher celebrated the clutch hit, which scored Trey Mancini and Danny Valencia, as he slid into third base.
"It was a fastball away," Duke said. "It was up a little bit more than I wanted it to. If it's down, it's a ground ball. But he got enough of it."
Gentry's clutch catch: Gentry made a terrific leaping grab at the right-field fence to rob Rosario in the second inning. Gentry, who hustled back to the wall, perfectly timed the jump to seal the highlight-reel grab and save Bundy a run.
"Off the bat, I was tracking it, and it was kind of an instinctual thing," Gentry said. "Just ended up in the glove, and it was a big moment in the game. I was definitely excited I was able to make the play and be a part of Opening Day."
"Each one is more and more special, because it shows I've been able to maintain and stay in the big leagues. … I think this one is probably more important, because my kids are able to talk a little bit better and they understand what's going on better. And that's who I play for." -- Jones, on his 11th Opening Day with the Orioles
One of three Oriole rotation acquisitions this spring, Andrew Cashner will get the nod for the second game of the season against Minnesota on Saturday at 7:05 p.m., live on MLB.TV. The righty pitched for Texas last season, going 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA.
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