One thing that we saw in the 2012 Baltimore Orioles was that they had a short memory. They could lose a game only to come back and win the next day, or the day after that, and so forth. The O’s returned to action yesterday afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota against a split squad version of the Philadelphia Phillies. Admittedly, the 12-3 final score in favor of the O’s probably has something to do with the fact that Philadelphia was in a split squad situation. However you can also file this under the category of you still have to go out and win the game.
Chris Tillman made his second spring training start, and was credited with the win. Tillman’s line: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K. Tillman said after the game that he felt his fastball command was much better yesterday than in his first start, but his off speed pitches were still a bit behind. That’s the pitch on which Michael Young gave Philadelphia two of their three runs on a two-run homer. However we should also keep in mind that this is why these spring games are so important. Players need to work themselves back into playing at this level again, so that it’s full steam ahead come Opening Day. Miguel Gonzalez pitched two scoreless innings in relief as well, marking the first time we had seen him in 2013. It was also the first time he had appeared in a big league spring training game since 2007 (for whatever that’s worth).
Offensively, Matt Wieters homered and was credited with five RBI in the game. Conor Jackson DH’d in the game, and he slugged two homers. Jackson could end up being great depth for the Orioles, provided that he doesn’t make the team out of spring training. With the Orioles leading 4-2 in the last of the fifth Wieters connected on a two-run double, followed immediately by Jackson’s three-run homer. Jason Pridie decided to join the home run parade as well with a two-run shot of his own, as the Orioles put seven runs on the board. Defensively your goal is to stay out of the big inning; the Orioles certainly turned the tables on that in the fifth inning!
Orioles fans should like the fact that the likes of Conor Jackson, Jason Pridie, et al, are getting at-bats with the first teamers on occasion this spring. First off for the time being the lineup will look very different in terms of personnel and order because Adam Jones will be away. However due to the WBC there are also more games than most big league teams are used to playing in Grapefruit League play this year. Therefore that means that there are more opportunities for guys to get at-bats in games. And why not insert some of these guys into the starting lineup from time to time? You never know if any of them might end up playing a role for you during the regular season, so it pays to utilize the extra games and get a look at them.
The Orioles will enjoy their first off day of Spring Training 2013 today before heading to Dunedin to take on Toronto tomorrow. They’ll return to Ed Smith Stadium to take on Team Spain (from the WBC) before seeing Toronto again in Sarasota on Thursday afternoon. The Birds have a total of three off days this year as opposed to the normal tally of one during Spring Training. (Four if you count March 31st.)