And I'm back; the trip went a little longer than expected and then I got swept up in the excitement of Opening Day, so I was away longer than I had planned. But now I'm back and don't plan on going anywhere for awhile.
Somehow the Orioles are 3-0 and swept the Twins out of town. I was lucky to attend Opening Day on Friday and game #2 on Saturday, but couldn't make it to Jason Hammel's near no-hitter yesterday. All told the O's outscored the Twins 15-5 in the series and the O's three starting pitchers, Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, and Hammel, allowed only one earned run over 22 innings pitched. Nick Markakis hit a homer run in each of the first two games and Matt Wieters, JJ Hardy, and Adam Jones all went deep as well. Freakin' Ronny Paulino went 4-4 in his Orioles debut on Sunday. Who knew? Maybe this team will be alright. Or maybe the Twins are pitiful.
On to the debuts...of which there were eight over the first three games.
There were two debuts on Opening Day, which is a relatively small number for the first game of the season.
Wilson Betemit was the first Orioles debut of the season and will forever be Oriole #911. He went 1-3 as the Opening Day designated hitter.
Matt Lindstrom gave up two hits but no runs in the eighth inning and is now Oriole #912.
Game #2 on Saturday had four debuts.
Nick Johnson started the game at first base, but went 0-4 at the plate. He is Oriole #913.
The previously mentioned Ronny Paulino was the designated hitter on Saturday and scored two runs along with his four hits, including a double. It was an impressive start. Unfortunately, I don't yet have Ronny's autograph and he turned down a request when I had him 1 on 1 earlier on Saturday. Luckily, he has a number of certified autographs out there, and backup catchers don't normally get too much cardboard love. So I might go ahead and buy one of his autographs out there. I hate adding guys to my need list, which is now populated solely by Ronny. He is Oriole #914.
Luis Ayala, Oriole #915, came to pitch a clean ninth inning in the O's 8-2 victory. While he did have a six run lead, I wouldn't expect him to be the mop-up guy out of the bullpen, I think he just needed the work. My guess for the current mop-up guy is the one who began last season as the team's closer, but rarely had a clean outing.
Ryan Flaherty also made his Orioles, and MLB, debut in the ninth inning of Saturday's game. He came in as a defensive replacement for Mark Reynolds, who had fouled a ball off of his calf muscle earlier in the game. Reynolds also made a a few suspect plays in the field and recorded his first error of the season earlier in the game. Flaherty made a slick play in the top of the ninth that I'm not convinced Reynolds would have made if he was still in there. Flaherty is Oriole #916.
Sunday's game saw two more Baltimore debuts.
Jason Hammel was the starting pitcher and tossed a gem in his first Oriole outing. He didn't allow his first hit until the top of the eighth inning and went on to allow just two hits and one run over 8. Pretty great for a third starter. Jason is Oriole #917.
Endy Chavez started in left field and went 1-4 at the plate. He is the 918th player to appear in a game for the O's. Unfortunately, he has already been pictured as an Oriole in the 2012 Topps Heritage set, as well as the Topps Orioles team set, so I already need an upgrade for my collection.
At this point, Wei Yin Chen and Darren O'Day are the only two players on the 25 man roster to have not made their Orioles debut yet, but I know Chen is scheduled to start on Tuesday and I would imagine we see O'Day matched up against a member of the Yankees over the next three nights.
Good luck to all of the 2012 Orioles, keep up your winning ways!