Orioles take flight, overpower Rays in Game 1

Orioles take flight, overpower Rays in Game 1

ST. PETERSBURG -- Chris Tillman came through with a quality start, and the Orioles' offense chipped in with the right amount of slugging en route to a 6-2 win over the Rays on Monday afternoon at Tropicana Field.

New Oriole Travis Snider got his club off to a 1-0 first-inning lead when he slapped an RBI single to left. The run wasn't earned thanks to a throwing error by Rays starter Chris Archer, but the Orioles added to the lead with offensive muscle.

Alejandro De Aza connected on a 2-2 pitch from Archer with one out in the fifth and deposited the ball into the right-field stands for a two-run homer. Steve Pearce added a solo home run in the sixth to give the Orioles a 4-0 lead.

Pearce's solo home run

Tillman threw six scoreless innings before Evan Longoria homered to left with one out and he held Tampa Bay to just four hits in the 95-pitch outing.

"This guy is a perfectionist he will critique himself. He'll probably talk about some walks ... but he's got great presence," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Tillman. "You know he's capable of handling that situation. Proud of him."

"[Tillman] pitches up in the zone really well," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "If you notice, a lot of fly balls, a lot of popups. Seems like a lot of just misses. You've got to give him credit. He did a nice job. Kept pounding the zone and putting himself in pitcher's counts. Just putting us on the defensive."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Snider impresses in debut: Acquired in an offseason trade from Pittsburgh, Snider had an impressive first game in orange and black. He went 3-for-4 with two RBIs to help lead the O's offense. The right fielder picked up his first assist in the fifth inning and also made a diving catch to start the bottom of the sixth.
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"I think it's important for him," Tillman said of Snider. "I think we've got big shoes to fill and he did every bit of it today. He made some good plays, a good throw and some big hits. I'm happy for him. I really am. I'm pulling for the guy."

Snider's diving catch

Mistakes hurt Rays: Archer got off to a rough beginning when he fielded a dribbler by De Aza, who led off the game. Archer threw the ball over first baseman James Loney's head, leading to the Orioles' first run. On the offensive side, Steven Souza Jr. got an infield hit in the fourth, accounting for the Rays' first hit against Tillman. But Souza made the turn toward second. After realizing his mistake, he had no choice but to make a break for second. He got caught in a rundown and, subsequently, tagged out.

Archer's effort: Archer looked overpowering at times, recording his first two strikeouts by virtue of 97 and 98 mph fastballs. The third came via a 90-mph slider. But the right-hander got bit by the long ball, surrendering two home runs before leaving the game after 85 pitches and 5 2/3 innings. More »

Trio goes deep After giving the O's a big boost down the stretch last season, De Aza and Pearce kept up the blistering pace, while Flaherty stepped up for injured shortstop J.J. Hardy. De Aza drove the 10th pitch from Archer, a 2-2 changeup, over the right-center-field fence for a two-run shot in the fifth inning. Pearce opened the sixth with a solo homer and Flaherty put the Orioles back up by four with a ninth-inning blast. More »

"Those guys you can tell they prosper in the environment they are in and let's keep creating it," Showalter said. "It's fun to watch. They care about playing the game right."

Flaherty's long home run

QUOTABLE
"I don't think Travis looks at it [as replacing Nick Markakis] until someone reminds him of it. We are not asking anybody to be Nelson Cruz or Nick Markakis or Andrew Miller. Just bring what they bring. And be themselves." -- Showalter

"There's a rule in play to keep everybody from getting injured. And it makes it awkward for the baserunner. It makes it awkward for the catcher, being Rene [Rivera]. I don't know what the right thing there is on that. I understand the guy was safe, but it seemed like everybody slowed up. We don't want that to happen, but we also don't want Rene to drop down and just get just trucked by blocking the plate. It's awkward. We'll work through it." -- Cash on the eighth-inning play at the plate that was overturned

Orioles challenge play at home

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• The Orioles are now 5-0 on Opening Day under Showalter.

Steve Geltz struck out the four hitters he faced, making him the first pitcher since records are available (1914) to pitch more than an inning and strike out everybody he faced on Opening Day.

INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT
With All-Star catcher Matt Wieters on the disabled list, Caleb Joseph is expected to get the bulk of the playing time. And Joseph wasted no time showing what he can do, nabbing John Jaso on a steal attempt of second base in the first inning. Joseph also put the tag down on Loney, who was gunned down by Snider to end the fifth inning.

REPLAY REVIEW
Cash challenged the call on the field in the bottom of the fifth when Loney was called out trying to score from second on Logan Forsythe's single to right. Snider threw a strike to Joseph, who tagged out Loney sliding headfirst. The basis for Cash's challenge concerned the home-plate collision rule. After review, the replay official ruled the runner out. The call was confirmed after 1 minute, 28 seconds.

Out call at home confirmed

The pendulum swung the other way in the eighth, when Pearce tried to score from first on a double by Snider. The throw arrived long before Pearce, and he was called out. Showalter challenged and after a 2 minute, 34 second delay, the ruling on the field was overturned, as Pearce appeared to slide underneath the tag.

WHAT'S NEXT
Orioles: Baltimore will get back All-Star first baseman Chris Davis, whose 25-game suspension from last season ended with Monday's game. Davis is expected to be in the lineup against the Rays at Tropicana Field, with lefty Wei-Yin Chen getting the start Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET.

Rays: Nathan Karns will make his sixth Major League start and third with the Rays. He reported to Spring Training hoping to earn the No. 5 spot and came away as the starter in the second game of the season. The right-hander threw six strong innings against the Phillies in his last spring outing, allowing one run while striking out eight.

Bill Chastain and Brittany Ghiroli are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.