When the ball came off Orioles left fielder Xavier Avery’s bat in the eighth inning of Friday night’s game against the Indians, he wasn’t sure whether he got enough of it for his first major-league home run.
He came out of the batter’s box sprinting – thinking he could get a triple if the ball hit off the left-field wall – but as he rounded first, he looked up and saw his sprint could turn into a trot.
“I looked up I was like, ‘Oh snap,’” Avery said. “I caught that one.”
Avery’s solo homer proved to be the winning run in the Orioles’ 9-8 victor over Cleveland on Friday night, snapping the O's three-game losing streak.
“That’s really exciting, it’s always a plus when you help out your team get the 'W,'” Avery said. “It really wouldn’t have meant a lot if we didn’t get a win with it. But we got a win with it, so it means a whole lot.”
In between innings, the Camden Yards video board showed a replay of Avery’s homer and announced it was his first big league homer, and the crowd gave Avery a loud ovation.
“You know, I felt a little tingly inside,” Avery said. “But you know I looked up at the board and I was like, ‘Oh snap, everybody is looking.’ And I’m looking around and I don’t see none of my teammates running out with me and I’m like OK, OK. But I kept smiling as I ran out the whole time. I was trying to refocus actually, because the game was still on my line. But it felt good. It felt good to run out there with a smile on my face.”
Meanwhile, the chase was on to acquire Avery’s home-run ball, which was caught in a group of five Indians fans. A member of the Orioles staff bartered a deal for the ball – the Indians fans wanted baseballs autographed by Jim Palmer.
“Whoever that guy was thanks, thanks for giving me my first home run ball,” Avery said. “It means a lot to me.”
And after the game, as Avery was doing a postgame TV interview, center fielder Adam Jones delivered a customary celebratory shaving cream pie to Avery’s face to mark the milestone.
“I didn’t even see it coming, looking out for it,” he said. “But it felt good to get. I can still taste the shaving cream on my lips. I’ve got to say it tastes good, too."