Following an off season in which the Baltimore Orioles were criticized by national media and by many fans for the moves they didn’t make, one of the few trades they did make propelled the O’s to a 5-3 victory over Minnesota in yesterday’s Grapefruit League opener. Admittedly that sentence along with the headline is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek joke given that wins and losses really mean nothing until April 2nd. However the fact is that when an athlete puts on a uniform, regardless of the stakes (exhibition game, regular season, etc) he’s playing to win. So it had to feel good for Trayvon Robinson drive in the eventual winning runs in the last of the eighth, especially given that the Orioles traded Robert Andino to Seattle for Robinson in the off season.
The Orioles used a total of nine pitchers in yesterdays game, with each guy getting an inning. Zach Britton got the start; for the record, Britton’s line: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K. It’s tough to tell anything from one inning of work, however it’s worth noting that Britton allowed two base runners but battled out of the mini-jam. I’ve said before that the nature of the position (pitcher) is that a guy’s going to get in trouble. That’s how the game is designed, however it’s how you handle the trouble that separates the men from the boys. Jake Arrieta allowed a walk, and Tommy Hunter a two-run homer.
Brian Roberts went 0-for-2 (two groundouts) in the game before leaving Ed Smith Stadium immediately after his second at bat to attend his best friend’s wedding. (As a result, Roberts will not be on today’s trip to Dunedin for the game against the Toronto Blue Jays.) One extremely positive sign was that Chris Davis had a flawless day at first base for the Birds (Davis also went 2-for-2 at the plate).
Good or bad, we shouldn’t forget that these are only “practice games.” As I said above athletes are always playing to win when they’re in the game, however this was the first time that these guys were on the field together this year. I probably shouldn’t even be writing a semi-formal game recap and breaking down the game because the scores are almost irrelevant. (But keep in mind that I haven’t written a game recap since October, so it’s also a practice game for me!) However it’s also worth mentioning that the Orioles were haunted by old nemesis Josh Willingham, who sent a two-run homer over the wall. However even in games that don’t count, it’s worth mentioning that the 2013 O’s already started doing their best imitation of the 2012 squad by coming through in the clutch. How familiar does a tie game in the last of the eighth, someone gets on base, and someone else belts a two-run homer sound? So as far as late-inning heroics in exhibition games go, thus far the Trayvon Robinson for Robert Andino trade is a success from the Orioles’ standpoint.
This afternoon’s starting pitchers are Mark Buehrle for Toronto and Jair Jurrjens for the O’s. Jurrjens is scheduled to be followed by Troy Patton, Mike Belfiore, Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Daniel Schlereth and Eduardo Rodriguez. If yesterday is any indication, Buck Showalter appears to be giving each pitcher one inning, at least in the first turn through the “rotation” (if you can call it that at this point), so two other names might be added to the list. Today will be the first time that 2012 first round draft pick Kevin Gausman will play in a major league game, so the fourth inning in Dunedin this afternoon is definitely worth following. Showalter also said that Nolan Reimold is expected to make the trip today and will be in the lineup. Many of the regulars won’t make road trips during spring training (especially these early games), so when the lineup is released you can expect it to be vastly different than what we saw yesterday and what we’ll see tomorrow against New York in Sarasota.