BALTIMORE – Surely Yovani Gallardo’s succeeding Orioles starters will be longer. But, his first one wasn’t bad.
Gallardo allowed just two hits in five innings as the Orioles beat the Minnesota Twins 4-2 before 12,622 chilled fans at Oriole Park on Wednesday night.
Gone was the excitement of Opening Day. The crowd was just a fraction of what it was when Monday’s game began, but the Orioles (2-0), continued to play complete ball.
The brilliant Minnesota rookie, Byron Buxton, had a pair of doubles, the only hits allowed by Gallardo, who walked three and struck out four. He was lifted after 89 pitches.
“I think he’s getting there. He’s a guy who’s going to add and subtract. I think he’s a guy who’s kind of evolved and knows who he is and who he isn’t. A guy who keeps you in the ballgame and gives you a chance to win it if you catch it and score some runs,” manager Buck Showalter said.
It was just the second time Gallardo has ever pitched here. He threw six shutout innings last year when he played for Texas, and he enjoyed his first start as a member of the home team.
“I’m excited, and having the opportunity to pitch here last year on the other side of the dugout. It’s a good feeling, the excitement in the stands and having the fans here cheering behind you, it’s a win-win,” Gallardo said.
The Orioles scored single runs in the second, third, fourth and fifth, to give Gallardo (1-0) a 4-1 lead by the time he left.
Jonathan Schoop’s bloop double to right, which eluded the diving Miguel Sano, scored the newly reenergized J.J. Hardy from first in the second inning.
Chris Davis hit his first homer, and the team’s first of 2016 in the third.
Showalter said that he’s noted that without the pressure of a contract year, Davis seems content.
“I think Chris seems to be in a rhythm about a lot of things in his life. 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. He had a great spring all the way around, work-wise, engaged and everything. 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,” Showalter said.
Davis’ walk on Monday led to the winning run, and his deep fly ball in the opener nearly went out.
He seemed touched by Showalter’s observation.
“I think the expectations we have for ourselves every season are so high that the pressure’s kind of self-inflicted. I think that every guy in here goes into the offseason with something in mind to get better at, to work hard on, to come to spring training prepared. 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,” Davis said.
Joey Rickard’s first major league RBI, a sacrifice fly brought home Hardy, who doubled to lead off the fourth. For the second straight game, Rickard had two hits.
Matt Wieters’ double drove in Mark Trumbo from first in the fifth.
The four runs were scored against Kyle Gibson (0-1).
Buxton scored on Joe Mauer’s scoring fly ball in the third.
Mychal Givens gave up Trevor Plouffe’s home run to left in the sixth.
Brad Brach got the last out of the sixth, and struck out the side in the seventh though he walked two.
Darren O’Day struck out two of his three batters in the eighth, and Zach Britton worked the ninth for his first save. Britton allowed a leadoff double to Eduardo Escobar and a walk to Brian Dozier, but struck out the side, the final of the team’s 13 strikeouts.
The Orioles, who strike out far more times than they walk, have an equal number of walks (six) as strikeouts on Wednesday night.
“I think it’s more of a conscious effort to swing at good pitches. We know the power potential this lineup has, the amount of damage that we are capable of doing. But we know we have to go out there and swing at good pitches,” Davis said.
Showalter is pleased with the patience.
“So far it’s been good,” Showalter said. “But we have 160 more.”
NOTES: The first 7,500 fans 14 and under receive an Orioles’ T-shirt on Sunday. … Ubaldo Jimenez faces Phil Hughes on Thursday night. … Britton recorded his 74th career save, tying him with Eddie Watt for seventh place on the Orioles’ all-time list.