Since Grapefruit League play started last Saturday, I’ve tried to preach to readers that wins and losses in these games don’t mean much (if anything). And they really don’t, especially since there’s very little “game planning” that goes into each game from the perspective of the coaches. However you’d be remiss if you didn’t at least take pause in noticing that the Baltimore Orioles haven’t lost as of yet. Again, wins and losses are meaningless at this stage…that is if the winning doesn’t continue into the regular season. I suppose what I’m saying is that perhaps there is a small bit of value in these wins with regard to 2013. Make no mistake about the fact that the O’s will eventually drop a game. But winning games now gets the guys used to that feeling as they prepare for the regular season.
Last night the Birds took on the Boston Red Sox in Sarasota with Chris Tillman getting his first look of the exhibition season. Tillman’s line: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K. Not a shabby first start, however over that 1.2 innings Tillman threw 43 pitches. 25 of those pitches came in the first inning, and 16 of them were for strikes. Boston has always had a lot of guys that work the count, which does attest for the high pitch count to a point. Tillman got into a mini-jam with two on in the first inning but was able to pitch out of it. Adam Jones reached on a Pedro Ciriaco error in the last of the second and then later scored on Matt Wieters’ RBI-single (following a Saltalamacchia error). Boston however took the lead on a two-run homer by Johnny Gomes off of Zach Britton.
However the O’s are a team that’s coming off of a season marked by lots of power. Much of that is attributed to Chris Davis, who gave the Orioles the lead back with a two-run homer of his own in the last of the sixth. Two other things that stood out: 1) Depth/add-on runs, 2) Troy Patton. The O’s were able to add on two runs on Taylor Teagarden’s RBI-single in the seventh, which showed that the Birds had depth in the organization that was capable of getting on base and adding on runs late in games. In the top of that seventh inning Troy Patton inherited a bases-loaded one-out jam, and was able to pitch out of it. Again, that’s a great sign. Those are the types of situations in which Patton might find himself in a regular season game, and he seemed to come in and pitch with ice water in his veins.
For the record, the Orioles’ “B squad” beat New York’s “A squad” yesterday afternoon in Tampa by the score of 10-7. Again, if the Orioles are able to consistently win throughout the Grapefruit League season and then carry that forward into April and beyond, then wins and losses at this point do mean something. Sometimes I wonder if in years past the Orioles tried to convince themselves that they were doing the right thing by just “getting their work in” during spring training and not worrying about wins and losses, while teams like Boston and New York played to win. You play how you practice, and if you’ve spent so much time getting psyched out of the fact that you aren’t playing to win, perhaps that carried into a few regular seasons over the years. The Orioles travel to Ft. Myers this afternoon to take on the Minnesota Twins, with Jair Jurrjens getting the start.