Baltimore Orioles' 5-0 start is team's best since 1970
BALTIMORE — The last time the Baltimore Orioles got off to a start like this, they ended up winning the World Series.
It’s way too soon for the Orioles to be thinking about things like that because, after all, they’ve still got 157 games left. For now, however, Baltimore is the only unbeaten team in the major leagues.
Manny Machado went 4 for 4 with a two-run homer, and the Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 Sunday for their fifth straight victory.
The torrid start matches the 1970 team for the best in Orioles history. After sweeping Minnesota in three games to open the season, Baltimore completed the homestand by taking two from Tampa Bay in a rain-abbreviated series.
“It’s still early. You don’t win a championship in April, but you definitely do learn to play as a team,” Machado said. “We’re going to continue to do that, hopefully.
Vance Worley gave up three runs over 4 2-3 innings in his Orioles debut and the bullpen blanked the Rays on one hit the rest of the way. Brad Brach (1-0) entered in the fifth and Zach Britton worked a perfect ninth for his second save.
Baltimore’s starting rotation was supposed to be the team’s weakest link, but the group is a collective 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA.
“They gave us a chance to win, all five games,” manager Buck Showalter said. “If we do that we’ll have some fun this summer.”
South Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim made his major league debut for Baltimore, starting in left field and batting ninth. He got two infield hits and went 2 for 3 before being lifted for a pinch runner in the seventh inning.
It’s been a tough transition for Kim, who struggled in spring training and was the last position player on the Orioles to get in a game during the regular season.
“I was slightly concerned the team might lose today with me in it,” Kim said through a translator. “So to make sure that didn’t happen, I tried my best.”
Corey Dickerson homered for the Rays, who struck out 12 times and stranded nine runners.
“We battled,” Dickerson said. “It’s really early in the season. Once everyone gets clicking, everything will be good.”
Down 4-3, Tampa Bay loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth against Darren O’Day before pinch hitter Hank Conger whiffed on the sidearmer’s 33rd pitch of the inning.
Machado doubled and scored on a wild pitch in the bottom half.
Baltimore went up 4-0 in the second inning. Pedro Alvarez beat out a grounder — his first hit with the Orioles — and scored on a double by Jonathan Schoop. After rookie Joey Rickard delivered a sacrifice fly, Machado hit his second homer of the season on a 1-2 pitch from Jake Odorizzi (0-1).
Odorizzi settled down, but the damage was done.
“When you have one bad inning and give up four runs, then have five solid innings it is kind of hard to complain,” manager Kevin Cash said.
Dickerson homered in the fourth to make it 4-1 and extend the Rays’ club-record streak of games with a longball to 20.
Tampa Bay used two-out RBI singles by Evan Longoria and Steve Pearce to chase Worley in the fifth.
Pearce played his first game in Camden Yards since signing as a free agent with Tampa Bay during the offseason. He spent the previous three seasons with Baltimore, and was a key contributor to the 2014 squad that went to the ALCS.
Rays: Asked about the progress of RHP Brad Boxberger (hip) and RHP Alex Cobb (elbow surgery), Cash said, “They are going good, their rehab is going well.”
Orioles: CF Adam Jones missed a third straight game with soreness in his ribcage. “It is a concern because one of our best players is not playing,” Showalter said. “But it’s close, we think.”
Rays: Matt Moore (0-0, 5.40 ERA) will make his second start of the season in the opener of a three-game series at home against Cleveland.
Orioles: Baltimore and right-hander Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 1.80) serve as the opposition for the Boston Red Sox in their home opener at Fenway Park