Eight games into a young baseball season, the 28-year-old Reimold is realizing he can just be himself. And the Orioles left fielder has found his comfort zone this weekend in Toronto against the Blue Jays
Reimold hit a game-winning two-run homer off Toronto closer Francisco Cordero in the ninth inning, his second homer in as many games, leading the Orioles to a 6-4 win over the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre on Saturday night.
The win gave Baltimore its second-straight late-inning comeback win and sealed the Orioles’ first series win against the Blue Jays in Toronto since June 6-8, 2008. The Orioles, who came to Toronto having lost 29 of their last 34 games at the Rogers Centre, have now won their first two games of their three-city, 10-game trip.
“We never thought that we were going to be a team that was going to finish in the cellar and just go out there and play dead for nine innings,” said Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who had three hits, including one of the Orioles’ three homers on the day. “We obviously believe in the product we have, and like I said in spring training, if you don’t believe you have a winning ballclub whenever you start the season, there is no point in you going out there and playing the game.”
“We’re happy with the way things are going and we’re going to try to keep it rolling.”
As for Reimold, he is 5 for 10 with four runs, two doubles, two homers and three RBI in the first two games of the series from his leadoff spot.
“At this point in your career, you know what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. I’ve never been much of a bunter or anything like that,” Reimold said. “It’s good to have the manager say, don’t change anything and just go out and play.”
Reimold’s homer came on a designed hit-and-run play with pinch runner Ryan Flaherty on first and one out, but Reimold took a down-and-in slider from Cordero for a towering drive down the left-field line just inside the foul pole.
“We’re going to change that sign to a hit-and-trot,” Showalter deadpanned. “[Reimold]’s been in a good spot.”
In a game that included five lead changes, the teams traded longballs with the dome roof closed.
With the Orioles trailing 4-3 in the eighth inning, third baseman Wilson Betemit hit a game-tying solo home run, taking a full-count pitch from Toronto reliever Casey Janssen over the right field fence.
Betemit’s home run was atonement for a sixth-inning fielding error that eventually led to two Toronto runs and a 4-3 Blue Jays lead.
After Adam Lind’s one-out double off Orioles reliever Matt Lindstrom, Edwin Encarnacion hit a ball that bounced off the artificial turf and skipped past Betemit at third, moving Lind to third base. Eric Thames’s sacrifice fly tied the game at 3, and an RBI single by Colby Rasmus two batters later gave the Blue Jays the lead.
“They score that an error?” Showalter asked of Betemit’s miscue. “I’d like to see the score guy stand on that turf then see what he wants to score it, but Wilson’s been playing long enough he doesn’t dwell on things like that. You like to see how guys respond and stuff like that but we didn’t really look at it like something he had to respond to. That’s a tough play.”
Davis hit his first homer of the year in the fourth off Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez, a two-run 400-yard blast into the right-field seats that came on a 2-2 changeup. Davis’s home run snapped the Orioles’ streak of nine straight solo homers dating back to opening day. After Davis’s home run, Alvarez settled in, retiring 11 of 13 Orioles hitters.
Orioles starter Jason Hammel, who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his first start of the season a week ago, held the Blue Jays to two earned runs on six hits over five innings.
Hammel struggled to control his two-seam fastball, the pitch that befuddled Twins hitters in his no-hit bid.
“You are not going to have no-hitter stuff every time out, so you have to make it work,” Hammel said. Obviously, just to get through five there, [I was] very, very happy. A good team win, though everybody contributed.”
After Kelly Johnson’s first-inning solo homer off Hammel, the Blue Jays took a 2-1 lead on Colby Rasmus’s RBI single in the second.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases against Hammel later that inning for slugger Jose Bautista. But on with a 0-2 count on Bautista, who averaged 48.5 homers the past two seasons, Brett Lawrie tried to steal home.
Hammel calmly stepped of the rubber and threw a high throw to catcher Matt Wieters, who tagged out Lawrie to end the inning.
“I was surprised,” Hammel said. “It was more of a thank-you, [with] Bautista up there bases loaded. It was more of a favor to me to try to steal home. I was very calm, stepped off and actually gave Wietey a bad throw and he was able to get the tag down and out of the inning. That was a big spot in the game.”
Hammel settled in after that, retiring his next nine out of ten. Both of the runs off Lindstrom in the sixth were unearned because of the Betemit error. Right-handers Darren O’Day and Luis Ayala threw scoreless seventh and eight inning frames, respectively, whole closer Jim Johnson converted his fourth save of the season and his 12th straight dating back to last season.
“There’s a lot of good karma around our club, has been since spring training started,” Showalter said. “It’s kind of a quiet, competitive emotion. And if we can continue to stay in ballgames with our starting pitching we can have some fun.”
— Baltimore Sun