video thumbnail

BAL@TOR: Reimold puts O's up with ninth-inning homer

TORONTO -- Following Friday's win, Orioles left fielder Nolan Reimold -- fresh off his first homer this season -- admitted he was a little overanxious in his first few games at the leadoff spot and said he was finally starting to get comfortable.

He wasn't lying. Reimold doubled in his first at-bat Saturday and followed it up with a huge tiebreaking two-run homer in the ninth inning to give the Orioles a 6-4 win and their first series victory in Toronto since June 6-8, 2008.

"We talked to him since the day we contemplated it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Reimold being the team's leadoff hitter in Brian Roberts' absence. "I don't want him to start being chop-shop. I want him to be Nolan Reimold and get deep into some counts, and when it's time to square up a ball and do something with it, go ahead and do it. Don't change anything. Just bring what he brings."

In the first two games of the series, Reimold has brought out his power stroke, going 5-for-10 with two doubles, two homers, four runs scored and three RBIs. He said having Showalter's reassurance has helped him warm up to the idea of hitting leadoff, a notion which at first conjured up visions of playing small ball.

"At this point in your career, you know what you're good at and what you're not good at," said Reimold, who is the team's everyday left fielder for the first time in his career. "I've never been much of a bunter or anything like that. It's good to have the manager say, 'Don't change anything and just go out and play.'"

With one out and the score tied at 4, Reimold got the hit-and-run sign with pinch-runner Ryan Flaherty at first, and he made solid contact on Francisco Cordero's 1-0 slider, sending it over the left-field wall for his second homer in as many games.

"We're going to change that sign to a hit-and-trot," Showalter joked following Saturday's win, which improved Baltimore to 5-3 on the season and 5-4 in its last nine games in Toronto.

On the heels of a pair of extra-innings losses to the Yankees, the Orioles have come out and won two close games in Toronto, starting off 2-0 in a city where they had lost 29 of their previous 34.

"We're confident," said starter Jason Hammel, who battled through five innings, holding the Blue Jays to just two runs on six hits and a walk. "We're not here to just roll over and go play baseball. We are out to play good baseball, and inside the clubhouse, we know we can compete in this league and we are very, very proud of that."

Down a run in the eighth, Wilson Betemit -- who was Friday's hero with a two-out, two-run single in the eighth -- came through again, this time sending reliever Casey Janssen's full-count pitch over the right-field wall.

"That lineup has got power in it from top to bottom, and if you don't make quality pitches, that's what can happen," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of an Orioles club with six homers in two games. "There's no doubt that the ball is carrying exceptionally well right now, but that's not to take anything away from their power."

Betemit's solo shot also helped atone for a sixth-inning error that led to a pair of Blue Jays runs and gave Toronto a one-run lead. On that play, Betemit allowed Edwin Encarnacion's sharp grounder to scoot by him and into left field, giving Toronto runners on the corners with one out in the sixth. The error would prove costly when the Blue Jays tacked on two runs against reliever Matt Lindstrom, who gave up two hits and a walk.

"I'd like to see the [scorekeeper] stand on that turf, and then see what he wants to score it," Showalter said. "But Wilson's been playing long enough; he doesn't dwell on things like that."

The Orioles weren't about to dwell on the lost lead either, with Betemit going deep to tie the game and Reimold delivering the go-ahead blow one inning later.

"We were fired up," said Chris Davis, who had a two-run homer in the fourth inning.

"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. 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's 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."

Hammel and the Orioles got a big break in the second inning when Brett Lawrie made a puzzling decision to try to steal home with two outs, the bases loaded and the menacing Jose Bautista at the plate.

"I don't have any regrets about that situation," said Lawrie, who was tagged out by catcher Matt Wieters to end the inning. "But at the same time, I never want to take the bat out of Jose's hands, especially in that situation with the bases loaded and one of the best hitters in the game up. I don't want to take the bat out of his hands, but at the same time, I'm going to continue to be aggressive, just have to be a little bit smarter next time."

Lawrie's blunder helped Hammel -- who allowed three straight hits and a run to already cross the plate in the inning -- get out of a tough spot, and the right-hander was all for it.

"I was surprised," said Hammel, who called the decision more of a "thank-you" to him than anything else. "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."

MLB.com Comments