Davis, Gallardo help Orioles get off to 2-0 start
BALTIMORE — Chris Davis hasn't wasted any time in providing the Baltimore Orioles a positive return on their $161 million investment.
Davis homered to back an effective pitching performance by Yovani Gallardo in his Orioles debut, and Baltimore beat the Minnesota Twins 4-2 Wednesday night at chilly Camden Yards.
Davis, the reigning major league home run champ, hit a solo shot to deep center off Kyle Gibson (0-1) in the third inning to put the Orioles ahead for good. Davis also scored the winning run in the season opener and is off to a strong start after receiving a seven-year contract in January.
If Davis is feeling the pressure of becoming the highest-paid player in franchise history, it sure doesn't show.
"You always wonder how things like that are going to affect people, but early on in the spring you could tell he was the right kind of comfortable," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's been in a good place since he got to spring training. He just seems to be in a good rhythm about his life. I'm real proud of him."
After picking up his 550th career RBI and 799th hit, Davis said, "I think the expectations we have for ourselves every season are so high that the pressure's kind of self-inflicted. We expect a lot of each other. The biggest thing for me is that I know that I'm going to be here for a number of years and trying to do everything to try and help this team win a championship."
Gallardo (1-0) allowed one run and two hits in five innings, striking out four and walking three. The right-hander signed a $22 million, two-year contract in February after pitching for Texas last season.
"I'm excited, after having the opportunity to pitch here last year on the other side of the dugout," Gallardo said. "It's a good feeling, the excitement in the stands and having the fans here cheering behind you. It's a win-win."
Zach Britton, the last of four Baltimore relievers, struck out the side in the ninth for his first save.
Trevor Plouffe homered and Byron Buxton hit two doubles for the Twins, 0-2 against the Orioles this year after sweeping the seven-game season series last year.
Minnesota went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.
"When they had runners on they got them across and we didn't," manager Paul Molitor said. "That's what it boils down to."
Gibson gave up four runs in five innings. He walked five and allowed seven hits — at least one in each inning.
"It's a little frustrating," Gibson said. "You never want to start the season like that."
The temperature at game time was 48 degrees. Many of the fans wore winter coats, gloves and wool hats. Attendance was announced at 12,622 compared to 45,785 on opening day.
Gibson allowed three hits and two walks in the first two innings but trailed only 1-0 after working out of jams in each inning.
Minnesota used a sacrifice fly by Joe Mauer to pull even in the third, but Davis countered in the bottom half with a long drive on a 1-2 pitch.
The Orioles went up 3-1 in the third when J.J. Hardy doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Joey Rickard, the rookie's first career RBI.
After Matt Wieters hit an RBI double in the fifth, Plouffe connected off Mychal Givens in the sixth.
Twins: Ervin Santana has been moved up to Friday from Sunday after his start on opening day was cut short by rain. Tommy Milone will start Saturday and Ricky Nolasco will go Sunday.
Orioles: Chris Tillman will start Friday against Tampa Bay after pitching only two innings of the opener. Tyler Wilson is scheduled to start Saturday.
Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (shoulder) is slated to start for Double-A Bowie on Saturday. LHP Brian Matusz (ribcage) will throw for Bowie on Thursday and Friday. He could come off the DL on Sunday.
Twins: Phil Hughes makes his 21st career start against the Orioles in the series finale Thursday night. He's 8-5 lifetime vs. Baltimore.
Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez starts for Baltimore. He threw five shutout innings in his only start against the Twins last season.