Once again if Spring Training is any indication, the 2013 Baltimore Orioles will be good at something for which the 2012 squad was noted: late-inning heroics. Go figure, the walk off three-run homer came from a guy that figured prominently into 2012 in Ryan Flaherty. Once again, I can’t stress enough that this doesn’t mean anything…for now. However I think that it should be duly noted that the homer came from a guy that was in fact with the club last year. If you notice, Flaherty has figured into games thus far mostly in later innings which might indicate that Buck Showalter‘s seeing him more as organizational depth this year. (As a Rule 5 pick last season, Flaherty had to be on the big league roster or he was sent back to the Chicago Cubs. This season the Birds have the option of sending him to the minors if they wish.) If that’s true, he’s at least making them take pause to think about it.
This was a fairly wild game from the get go, which isn’t surprising given that it was between two AL East rivals. Jason Hammel started for the O’s; Hammel’s line: 2.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K. (That one walk came on a check swing by Jose Bautista that was very questionable; for the record, manager Buck Showalter appeared to not be overly thrilled with the call.) Hammel had a bit of trouble with command in the first inning but he settled down. That’s what a lot of spring training is about for pitchers in that they need to work on locating their fastballs once again. After Toronto took a 1-0 Nolan Reimold broke a cardinal rule of leading off as he sent the first pitch over the fence. However again…you’ll take that in spring training.
Toronto committed two errors in the last of the third to help the Orioles put five runs on the board. While you can look at that and say that the O’s had a lot of help in getting those runs, it’s also worth mentioning that they made the opponent pay for making those mistakes. The 1998-2011 versions of the team might have let them off the hook. However Toronto battled back, and ended up taking a 7-6 lead at one point as Daniel McCutchen allowed three runs in the seventh inning. However again, these Birds showed that you play until the final out. Trayvon Robinson‘s two-run double gave the O’s the lead back at 8-7 in the last of the seventh. After Toronto came back to tie it in the eighth, they put two runs across in the top of the ninth to take a 10-8 lead. Part of the frustration in that sequence was that Toronto’s bad base running came back to haunt the Orioles. Kenny Wilson was on second base when Adam Russell walked Ryan Goins. For some odd reason, Wilson decided to go to third base. Oriole catcher Luis Exposito threw the ball into left field trying to get Wilson out at third. Live by mistakes on the other side, and die by them I suppose.
Yamaico Navarro was hit by a pitch in the last of the ninth to reach base, and Chris Dickerson singled (prior to Danny Valencia flying out). That set the stage for Flaherty’s heroics to win the game with a walk off three-run homer. The Orioles have two night games coming up starting tonight in Bradenton against Pittsburgh, and tomorrow night down in Ft. Myers against the Boston Red Sox. Manager Buck Showalter indicated after the game that he was going to try not to throw any of his would-be regular season starters against AL East teams after yesterday’s game. No reason to give the competition a leg up when the games still don’t count. Following the game the O’s reassigned three pitchers (Mike Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Zack Braddock to minor league camp, along with catcher Allan de San Miguel. None of those moves came as surprises.