The Orioles closed out the first half of exhibition play last night in grand fashion with a 6-3 win over the Yankees at Ed Smith Stadium. For what it’s worth the announced crowd of 8, 686 (paid attendance) set a new Ed Smith Stadium record, breaking a record of 8,500 plus last year in a game against the Phillies. New York starter Ivan Nova had a rocky start to the game as Adam Jones sent his first homer of spring training over the fence in the first inning, this one of the three-run variety. Matt Wieters followed with a solo shot, and suddenly the Orioles had a 4-0 lead over NY in the last of the first.
One concern coming out of the game was the condition of starting pitcher Alfredo Simon, who came out of the game after two innings. Simon said that he had re-injured his groin which had given him trouble this spring. He was replaced in the last of the third by Luis Ayala, who shut NY down. The last of the fourth brought Mike Wright out of the bullpen. Wright was a third round pick out of East Carolina by the Orioles last year, and pitched at various places in the Oriole minor league system last year. Wright really grabbed the bull by the horns in his time in the game. To be quite blunt, he was awesome. He seemed to stand tall on the mound and had a certain swagger out there which has been absent at times from Oriole pitchers in the past few years. Wright mowed down the Yankees during his time in the game, and he received a nice hand from the Ed Smith Stadium crowd when he left. Wright’s final line: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K.
Matt Wieters picked off three runners on the base paths, which is equally as good to see. MASN’s Gary Thorne and Mike Bordick said during the telecast that there might be a bit more running this season in the AL East. If that’s to be the case, Matt Wieters appears to be ready. Left fielder Endy Chavez also went 3-for-3 on the night, with three RBI and a run scored leading off. Again, this is a good sign for the O’s because Chavez may well be the lead off guy they’ve been looking for in the absence of Brian Roberts. Chavez got picked off once on the base paths, however on another occasion I noticed that his “jumpiness” seemed to cause NY starter Ivan Nova to commit a two-base throwing error. That’s the kind of presence that the Orioles will need on the base paths this season. One might argue that on the play in question Chavez had actually been picked off before the ball was thrown away. That’s not good, right? In theory, however the presence of Chavez and the threat he represented to swipe a bag led to that throwing error.
All in all, this appeared to be your typical spring game in that there were some mistakes, but also some very bright spots. Going back to Chavez for a moment, he also drove in Robert Andino at one turn at the plate, which reminded me of the beginning of last year when J.J. Hardy was batting ninth and Brian Roberts would drive him home once the order flipped over. If you have a guy like Chavez that is in fact a decent lead off man, that combined with a decent average guy like Andino at the bottom of the order can get rallies started.
As has been stated previously the O’s will take today off in terms of actually playing games, however I suspect that several moves will be made in terms of cuts and so forth. Moving forward I believe we’ll start to see the games being managed and played more like real games as opposed to in a situational manner. As an example, while he was in the game Alfredo Simon seemed to be making a concentrated effort to throw off speed and breaking pitches as opposed to heat. Perhaps now pitchers will try to do things the way they normally would in a game as opposed to working on one skill or feature. Nevertheless, the O’s finished the first part of spring training with a record of 6-7, and four ties. This in theory is the last day off the players will have until April 5th, when they’ll have a day off at home preceding the Opening Day game. However the Grapefruit League season concludes on April 1st and the O’s have three slated exhibition games against college and minor league teams on April 2-4th. I suspect that the regulars might be used sparingly if at all in those games.
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