It was probably more interesting than he would've wanted, but Japanese import Koji Uehara won his Major League debut on Wednesday night at Camden Yards, as the Orioles held on to beat the Yankees 7-5.
Uehara went five innings, giving up five hits and walking one. The 34-year-old came into the game only walking 206 batters in over 1,500 career innings pitched ... a far cry from the recently-departed Daniel Cabrera, who dished out walks like candy on Halloween.
If the Orioles are going to make any progress this season and reverse the trend of 11 straight losing seasons, pitchers like Uehara have to be part of the nucleus.
The Orioles were hot at the plate for the second straight game, with Nick Markakis belting his first home run of the season and Adam Jones reaching base yet again with a double in the first inning. Markakis would double him home, showing again that if Jones can get on base consistently, which he did in Monday's season opener as well, to the tune of 3-for-3 at the plate, the Orioles will be a productive offensive team.
Brian Roberts might be the leadoff man, but don't underestimate Jones' value hitting second in this lineup.
In all, the Orioles hit four doubles on Wednesday, with Aubrey Huff and Gregg Zaun getting in on the fun. More importantly, those doubles drove in runs. Baltimore was second in the American League last season in hitting with runners in scoring position, and two games into 2009, that rend looks to continue.
What nearly did Baltimore in Wednesday night, though, was the bullpen. The Orioles led 7-1 at one point, but Dennis Sarfate came in the top of the ninth and promptly gave up three runs -- including a two-run shot to Derek Jeter. Another run came in when Mark Texeira doubled off George Sherrill with two out, but Sherrill got Hideki Matsui to pop out to third to end the game and give the Orioles a 2-0 start to the season.
The Orioles, the only team in the division yet to lose after Tampa Bay beat Boston on Wednesday, will look for the sweep on Thursday afternoon at 1:35. A.J. Burnett will make his Yankee debut, going against Alfredo Simon. Simon will be making just his second career start. In four career appearances, Simon has a 6.23 ERA.
It's early yet, and it's impossible to tell what a team will be like after the first week, but opening the season with a three-game sweep of the Yankees can be just the momentum builder the Orioles need. And after 11 straight losing seasons, O's fans have to find all the positives they can.
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