Orioles escape with 10-9 win over Red Sox in opener; Rutschman goes 5-for-5 - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles escape with 10-9 win over Red Sox in opener; Rutschman goes 5-for-5

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BOSTON—More than six hours before the Orioles’ Thursday afternoon opener, manager Brandon Hyde stepped outside of his hotel to begin his walk to Fenway Park.

On Tuesday, the Orioles were still in Sarasota with temperatures well into the 80s. Hyde knew he wasn’t in Florida any longer. It was 30 degrees with a windchill of 19 degrees.

“Brrr!” Hyde said before the game. “That was cold. It felt like every bit of 19. My ears, my nose are still feeling it.”

By game time, the temperature had warmed to a still frigid 38 degrees. Hyde watched a historic performance from catcher Adley Rutschman on his first Opening Day, and the Orioles nearly fritter away a comfortable lead and hold on for a 10-9 win over the Boston Red Sox before an announced crowed of 36,049 at Fenway Park.

The first game was full of notables. Rutschman was 5-for-5 with four RBIs, a home run, four singles and  a walk.

Not bad for a player who woke up with jitters.

“I felt it. I was like, ‘Gosh.’ I was hoping it would wait at least until I got to the field. You wake up and you know it’s game day,” Rutschman said. “Once I start playing the game, then those go away, and I’m able to calm down and just play.”

He’s the third player in baseball history to go 5-for-5 with multiple RBIs on Opening Day since 1920, joining Babe Ruth and Billy Herman.

“He’s going to be doing other things that are firsts as well because he’s a super special player,” Hyde said.

The Orioles walked eight times and stole five bases, two each by Jorge Mateo and Cedric Mullins and one by Adam Frazier, who doubled twice and scored three runs.

“When we have an opportunity to run, we’re going to run,” Hyde said. “We have some guys that can run. We’ve got two of the better guys in baseball. We like to be aggressive, and we’re going to be aggressive with the lead for sure.”

The larger bases and limiting unsuccessful pickoff moves and stepoffs to two encourage stolen bases. Hyde didn’t have Mateo and Mullins run in spring training.

“I don’t need Mateo to work on stolen base jumps in the first few weeks of spring training, and Cedric, either,” Hyde said. “They didn’t have opportunities the last seven to 10 days. The main focus was to have Mateo and Mullins be healthy for Opening Day.

Ramón Urias, who started at third while Gunnar Henderson was the designated hitter, hit a two-run home run for the Orioles.

“We had really good at-bats the entire game,” Hyde said. “I was happy with our offense the entire game … Showed you the kind of offense we can be.”

In his first start for the Orioles, Kyle Gibson (1-0) allowed four runs on six hits in five-plus innings, but sloppy outfield defense undermined Gibson’s line.

“Good way to start the year,” Gibson said. “Had to do it with some long offensive innings, which is always a good thing. I don’t mind pitching in the cold, so you have to find a way to stay loose.”

After throwing to Rutschman three times in spring training, the two have developed a bond.

“I enjoy throwing to him. He’s got a good idea of how I want to pitch now,” Gibson said. “His reputation of how he catches and how he calls a game is very high and is already out there, and offensively, everybody knows he’s pretty good, too. That was a really awesome day for him to have that success on both sides of the ball. I look forward to more of it.”

Boston leadoff batter Alex Verdugo tripled to center on a ball Mullins could have caught in front of the center-field wall. Rafael Devers’ ground-rule double could have been caught by Austin Hays in right field in the fourth. Justin Turner’s single bounced right in front of Anthony Santander in left. Each scored.

“I know we had a few things here and there that made it a little bit of a dogfight,” Gibson said. “But a win is a win.”

In the eighth, Santander couldn’t get to Christian Arroyo’s double, which capped off a three-run inning that cut the Orioles lead to 10-7.

“It was cold with shadows,” Hyde said about the outfield play. “I’m not really sure.”

Keegan Akin and Cionel Pérez pitched two scoreless innings, but Bryan Baker was charged with the three runs in the eighth.

In the ninth, Félix Bautista hit Raimel Tapia with a pitch. Verdugo’s drive to center was mishandled by Mullins, and with second and third, Devers struck out. Turner reached on an infield single, scoring Tapia. Masataka Yoshida hit into what looked to be a game-ending double play to Mateo, and after he recorded the force at second, his throw to first was wild.

Rutschman wasn’t nervous as the game tightened.

“Close game in the ninth inning and the crowd getting so loud, you sit there and you’re like, ‘this is pretty cool,’” he said.

Bautista struck out Adam Duvall to end the game, and Hyde could try to get warm.

“I definitely need some hot chocolate and some lip therapy and some lotion for my face because It feels like my lips are about to fall off right now,” he said, laughing.

Notes: Gibson said he pitched in 28-degree weather in Minnesota in 2014. “This is not close,” Gibson said. “In the sun, that was enjoyable today.” … Rutschman said he wasn’t cold, either. “I felt like it was pretty nice out,” he said. “Being behind the plate, you don’t get as much wind. It’s not too bad back there. You have the gear.” … The 10 runs were the most the Orioles scored in an opener since April 6th, 2009 in a 10-5 win over the Yankees. … Governor Moore and his children will throw out the first pitch before the Orioles’ home opener on April 6th.  … The Orioles are off on Friday. Dean Kremer and Chris Sale are scheduled to pitch on Saturday at 4:10 p.m.

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