The 2012 Baltimore Orioles were noted for their ability to win close games, mostly of the one-run variety. If game two of spring training is any indication, the 2013 version of the club will pick up right where the former incarnation left off. The O’s defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 in Dunedin, FL yesterday to improve to 2-0 on the young exhibition season. Let’s be real about this though; as far as exhibition wins go, this one probably meant less than Saturday’s. Many teams don’t bring but a few of their regulars on road trips during spring training, and the Orioles are no exception. However this isn’t totally meaningless; I do believe that we saw the type of depth that the Orioles will have in the organization yesterday, which is obviously a sign of things to come.
Jair Jurrjens got the start in yesterday’s game, but obviously did not figure into the decision; Jurrjens’ line: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K. Jurrjens said after the game that he felt good about the outing, although certainly he didn’t want to give up the one run. Jurrjens’ one run came on a Mark De Rosa RBI-single which cut the Orioles’ lead to 2-1. The O’s had taken the lead on a two-run homer by Steve Pearce, who was about as consistent in all aspects yesterday as one could hope to be in a game of limited appearances. The O’s surrendered the lead when Oriole-killer Jose Bautista proved to be as lethal in Florida as he is in Toronto or Baltimore, knocking a two-run blast of his own off of Troy Patton. In fact, Patton might have provided the one bit of concern that came out of yesterday’s game. Patton’s line: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K. Admittedly that isn’t the worst stat line of all time, however translate those statistics over to a regular season appearance; Patton is a matchup lefty, and that one run could make a huge difference down the stretch in a game. However as much as people need to remember not to take success in these Grapefruit League games too seriously, the same is true with struggles.
Trayvon Robinson (yesterday’s hero) reached on a double in the top of the eighth, and he was plated to tie the game at three by Jason Pridie. That brought Steve Pearce to the plate once again, who gave the Orioles the lead for good with an RBI-single of his own. Pearce was the star of the game for the O’s, going 2-for-3 with three RBI (including a two-run homer) in the game. As I said, not many of the Orioles’ “regulars” made the trip yesterday, however I think that these kinds of “B games” do show the club the kind of depth that they’re going to have in the organization this year. Having said that, if the results of the first two games are any indication the Orioles would also be hard-pressed to keep Trayvon Robinson and Steve Pearce off of the big league roster. I suspect most of the guys in yesterdays game (with the exception of the Teagardens, Betemits, etc. of the world) will probably end up in the minors, however again…depth.
2012 first round draft choice Kevin Gausman got into the game late, providing us with his first taste of a big league game. Gausman’s line: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K. Gausman did struggle just a bit, but was able to pitch out of a mini-jam. I think the most impressive thing about Gausman was probably his changeup. That’s not something I write very often because a changeup is in theory just a slower version of a fastball. However as great as Gausman’s fastball was (topping out at 98 MPH), his changeup was hitting 83 on the gun. That’s a 15 MPH differentiation. If you throw that pitch in there after a 98 MPH fastball, it would almost be unhittable. After the game Gausman was kicking himself over the one walk, however based on his comments he didn’t appear to feel it was a bad outing in the least.
After the game the Orioles bused home to Sarasota where they’ll take on the New York Yankees in Grapefruit League game three this afternoon at 1 PM, a game that will be shown on MASN for the first time in 2013. I recall that last season MASN actually televised the home opener in Sarasota, and Buck Showalter sent Brian Matusz out to the mound as the starter; he’s doing the same this afternoon. I’m not sure if this is done on purpose so as to showcase Matusz for the hometown fans back in Baltimore, however the fact is that Matusz will be starting in today’s game and it’s on television. Mark Hendrickson, Daniel McCutchen, and Pedro Strop are the only other confirmed pitchers that are expected to be used in the game, however presumably there will be others. New York of course sustained a potentially catastrophic injury in their game against Toronto (who was in a split squad situation with NY and the Orioles) when Curtis Granderson was hit on the wrist and is expected to be out for at least 10 weeks. That won’t really have any affect on this afternoon’s game, however there’s certainly the potential that it does affect the early stages of the AL East race once the season begins. Granderson was expected to be a great source of power for NY’s lineup. Vidal Nuno is expected to start today’s game for New York, against most of the Orioles’ regulars. If you’re unable to watch today’s game on MASN, you can follow along on twitter (@DomenicVadala) for in-game updates, and the game will be replayed in it’s entirety on MASN at 7 PM.