BALTIMORE — Adam Jones had just hit the winning home run and absorbed a celebratory shaving cream pie in the face, and now the Baltimore Orioles center fielder was standing in the clubhouse surrounded by television cameras, microphones and his two little boys.
If there was any thought that his 11th opening day with the Orioles would be jumbled together with all the rest, the aftermath of Baltimore’s 3-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday was solid evidence to the contrary.
“Each one is more and more special because it shows I’ve been able to maintain and stay in the big leagues,” Jones said. “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.”
Jones homered on Fernando Rodney’s first pitch starting the bottom of the 11th inning to provide the Orioles with their eighth consecutive opening day victory.
After working out of trouble in the 10th, Rodney’s debut with the Twins came to an abrupt end when Jones went deep to left.
“I knew it was gone off the bat,” said Jones, whose contract expires after this season.
So, could this have been his final opener with Baltimore?
“Who knows, but I’m here now and it’s awesome,” Jones said.
Richard Bleier (1-0) worked one inning for the Orioles, who made the most of five hits.
Minnesota has lost nine of its last 10 openers, including three against Baltimore. The Twins forced extra innings with a two-run ninth before succumbing.
“There were some strange things that happened,” said reliever Zach Duke, who struck out four in the seventh inning. “But we proved is that if we’re going to go down, we’re going to go down swinging. We battled, and that’s the signature of this team.”
Baltimore missed a chance win it in the 10th when Jonathan Schoop bounced into a double play against Rodney (0-1) with the bases loaded after the Twins stacked the infield with five players, leaving just two outfielders.
An opening day that featured brilliant pitching by starters Dylan Bundy and Jake Odorizzi took a sharp turn as a result of bullpen breakdowns by both teams.
Although Duke struck out four in the seventh, he also threw two wild pitches and yielded a two-run triple to Caleb Joseph.
“I haven’t struck out four people in an inning since high school,” Duke said.
Not long after that, the sellout crowd of 45,469 stood in unison as Brad Brach – the anointed closer for injured Zach Britton – attempted to seal the victory in the ninth. With two outs, however, pinch-hitter Robbie Grossman blooped a two-run single to tie it.
Bundy gave up five singles, walked one and struck out seven in seven innings. He allowed only two runners past first base, and no one advanced to third.
Odorizzi was exceptionally sharp in his Twins debut, allowing two hits and two walks wbith seven strikeouts over six innings.
“I was a little nervous in the first but I tried not to show it, just harness it, and use it the right way,” Odorizzi said. “So I’m happy with the day.”
As soon as he left, however, Baltimore broke through against Duke, who was also pitching in his first game with Minnesota after signing as a free agent in December.
Duke began by striking out Trey Mancini, who reached when the wild pitch got past catcher Jason Castro and went to the screen.
Another wild pitch moved Mancini to second base. Duke then struck out Tim Beckham, issued an intentional walk to pinch-hitter Danny Valencia and struck out Craig Gentry before Joseph tripled to right-center.
Duke ended the uprising by striking out slugger Chris Davis.
Here's the catch: Gentry made a leaping catch at the right-field wall to rob Twins cleanup hitter Eddie Rosario of a potential home run.
Gentry timed his jump perfectly before reaching over the 7-foot barrier to make a backhand grab.
Trainer's room: Twins: RHPs Ervin Santana (finger) and Phil Hughes (oblique strain) were formally placed on the 10-day DL.
Orioles: As expected, DH Mark Trumbo (quad strain) and RHP Gabriel Ynoa (shin) were placed on the DL, retroactive to March 26.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson starts Saturday night in the second game of the three-game set. Gibson is 2-2 with a 5.89 ERA in seven career starts vs. Baltimore.
Orioles: RHP Andrew Cashner makes his Baltimore debut, coming off an 11-win season with Texas. He signed with the Orioles as a free agent in February.