Admittedly I raised an eyebrow when I saw Buck Showalter‘s Opening Day lineup. There had been rumors of Chris Davis hitting lead off, and in fact there was fact behind those rumors. I suspect that the idea was to get Davis some better pitches to see, but still certainly an unconventional move.
It was also interesting to see Craig Gentry get the start in right field as opposed to perhaps Colby Rasmus, who the Orioles had just signed. Obviously Gentry paid some immediate dividends when he saved a home run in the second inning of the game on Thursday. And as I said yesterday, the ball was over the wall. Gentry flat out robbed Minnesota, and brought the ball back into the ballpark.
For the record, Davis went 0-for-4 on the day. So if you’re looking at the immediate results of him batting lead off, I suppose they weren’t good. However also keep in mind that Thursday’s game was a pitcher’s duel. There were precious few guys who truly looked good in the game at the plate.
However here’s the point: don’t ever doubt Buck Showalter. We went through this a bit after the 2016 AL Wild Card game, in which he infamously left Zach Britton on the bench. I’m not saying that he’s perfect – NOBODY is. But the moves he makes or doesn’t make are done for a reason. Coming into the game Rasmus was a career 1-for-11 against Minnesota starter Odorizzi. And does Rasmus make the play that the fleet-of-foot Gentry made in the second inning? Does Gentry himself consistently make that play. We’ll never know, but we do know what happened with Gentry in there at that moment.
Buck Showalter knows more baseball than I do, along with all of the people reading this column combined. So while there were certainly some things about that lineup that were unconventional, I would give a guy like Buck Showalter the benefit of the doubt on something like that 100% of the time. Again, that doesn’t mean he’s infallible, nor should Orioles fans expect him to be. But the moves he makes are made for a reason, and that reason is usually something more than just trying to shake things up.
The disjointed opening series resumes this evening at Camden Yards. Andrew Cashner makes his Orioles’ debut on the mound, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Kyle Gibson. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.