Nunez, Orioles top Yankees 7-5 to take season-opening series

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              Baltimore Orioles' Renato Nunez (39) is greeted by teammates after hitting a three-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, Sunday, March 31, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Jim Palmer cut across the Baltimore clubhouse, headed over to young left-handers John Means and Paul Fry, and reached out for handshakes.

“Nice job, boys,” the Hall of Fame pitcher and longtime Orioles announcer praised.

Same goes for all the Orioles right now after they won their season-opening series at Yankee Stadium, beating New York 7-5 in a game delayed more than three hours by rain.

Coming off a 115-loss season under Buck Showalter, the Orioles and new manager Brandon Hyde started by taking two of three from the 100-win Yankees. Baltimore hadn’t won two in a row since August.

“This is how you grow as a team, playing games like these,” the first-time skipper said. “Against teams like this, in this environment.”

Renato Nunez, Trey Mancini and Joey Rickard hit Baltimore’s first home runs of the year and that was enough, albeit things got dicey for them at the end.

DJ LeMahieu hit an RBI single with two outs in the Yankees ninth off Mychal Givens. Fry relieved with two on and two outs and struck out pinch-hitter Troy Tulowitzki for his first save.

Means (1-0) replaced shaky starter Dylan Bundy and got the win in his second major league game. The 25-year-old struck out five in 3 1/3 innings and had the Yankees guessing with an impressive changeup.

Means kept a ball from the victory and said he’d probably send it to his parents for framing.

“Nice to get it out of the way and not have it linger,” he said.

Nunez hit a three-run drive into the bleachers in the first inning and Mancini made it 4-0 in the third. J.A. Happ (0-1) never settled in — the first pitch was held up by rain for 3 hours, 17 minutes, and it was 47 degrees and windy when the game began.

Happ said the conditions didn’t bother him much. The early setbacks, those did.

“It’s not ideal. We got to turn the page,” he said. “Not the start we wanted, but we can bounce back. We can play a lot better than we’ve played, I know that.”

After Gary Sanchez homered off Means in the seventh to pull the Yankees within 5-4, Rickard connected for a two-run homer in the eighth off Stephen Tarpley.

Givens made a throwing error that helped the Yankees load the bases in the eighth, but retired Luke Voit on a grounder to escape.

Bundy had an uneven outing a year after he tied for the most losses in the majors (16) and set a franchise record by serving up a big league-high 41 home runs. He struck out seven, walked five and gave up two hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Means relieved with the bases loaded and walked Brett Gardner in an 11-pitch at-bat, making it 4-1. Aaron Judge followed with a two-run single before Means, hit hard at Fenway Park last September in his only previous major league appearance, found his rhythm.

Bundy said he likes the look of this club.

“We play with a lot of energy,” he said. “It’s a fun place to be.”

NOT HAPP-Y

Happ had been 7-0 in his first 11 regular-season starts for the Yankees since being acquired last summer from Toronto. Joe Cowley (1983-84) is the last pitcher to go unbeaten in his first 12 starts for the Yankees.

WEATHERING IT

A decent number of fans waited out the delay and stuck around for the start. Their biggest cheers in the early innings came when the sun broke through while Judge batted and after Gleyber Torres captured a plastic bag that was blowing around the infield.

Only a couple thousand fans were left in the seats when it ended almost four hours later.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Orioles: Chris Davis was back in the lineup, a day after sitting out vs. LHP James Paxton. The slumping slugger went 0 for 3 after striking out in all three at-bats in the opener.

Yankees: RHP Dellin Betances (shoulder) threw a bullpen session Saturday and will throw one more before facing hitters on the side.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP David Hess makes his first start of the season, facing LHP Clayton Richard at Toronto on Monday night. Hess threw two scoreless innings in relief on opening day. The 25-year-old was 3-10 with a 4.88 ERA as a rookie last year.

Yankees: RHP Domingo German (2-6, 5.57) will pitch at some point vs. Detroit at home Monday night, but manager Aaron Boone isn’t quite sure when. A reliever might start with an inning or two, or it could be German from the first pitch. RHP Tyson Ross starts for the Tigers.