First off I’d like to thank my friends at the Maryland Sports Blog for today’s title, courtesy of this tweet after yesterday’s 15-4 win over Philadelphia. Let’s be frank; it’s spring training. Nobody is even going to give this game any thought after – well, they’re probably hardly giving it any thought now! But then fact is that the Baltimore Orioles didn’t just look good. They looked darned good in yesterday’s win. And before you look at the score and assume that Philadephia brought a group of scrubs to Sarasota, they had most of their A-teamers in the game. The O’s just flat out beat them.
Ubaldo Jimenez made his Orioles debut, and looked every bit worth the money the Birds are paying him. Jimenez’s line: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K. Jimenez was even credited with the win, which was really more of a technicality than anything else. However Jimenez was solid, as is evidenced by throwing two perfect innings. But before we put him in Cooperstown…it’s one spring training start. But he held down a potent (but aging) Philadelphia lineup throughout his two innings. From a pitching perspective, the only real scare was Miguel Gonzalez being the second Orioles pitcher in as many games to get hit by a comebacker. Gonzalez faced three batters, and left the game as soon as he was hit – he has a bruised leg as a result.
As is evidenced by the 15 runs, Oriole bats were hot in yesterday’s game. Nick Markakis went 4-for-4 on the day, with a single, two doubles, and a triple. Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Schoop also homered on the day for the Orioles, who’s relief pitching was dominant throughout the day. Matt Wieters, Jermile Weeks (who got the start at second base yesterday), Ryan Flaherty, and J.J. Hardy each drove in two runs, Hardy doing it with three hits on the day.
Again, people should take results like these with a grain of salt. However it’s worth pointing out that the Orioles looked crisp, while if you’re a Philadelphia fan you probably didn’t come away from the game with the same impression. However what should impress fans the most from the Orioles’ standpoint are things such as Nick Markakis extending a double into a triple in the last of the fourth. In an exhibition game the O’s were winning 6-2 at the time, that might not seem like a big deal. However it shows that Markakis is an intelligent base runner, who used his knowledge of right field to his advantage in terms of how much time the Philadelphia right fielder had to get the ball back in.
Markakis would later come into score on a wild pitch, which again illustrates the importance of smart base running. Odds are Markakis would have made it to third on that wild pitch from second, and later scored on what would have been a Chris Davis flyout, however the point is that the Birds were able to tack on a run that they otherwise might not have had. Immediately following Markakis’ at-bat Adam Jones worked the count and drew a walk, which again is something that should give Orioles fans a lot of hope. If Jones can start working the count more often he’ll see better pitches. We’ve been saying that for a few years, and it applies to several different players (league-wide). Ultimately these games aren’t as much about wins and losses as they are the mechanics of the game, and how the games themselves unfold.
The O’s are back on MASN again this afternoon at 1 PM as Boston comes to Sarasota for the first time this spring. Kevin Gausman will get his first start of the spring for the Orioles today, although it’s unclear whether or not he’ll be facing Boston’s A-team. After yesterday’s game the O’s announced some of their first roster options this spring, optioning pitcher Mike Belfiore to triple-A Norfolk, and reassigning pitchers Tim Alderson and Nick Additon to minor league camp.