I’ll be honest, I think a tie is the most un-American thing in sports. It’s something we routinely see in events such as the World Cup among others, and the fact is that in other countries they don’t view ties as a horrible thing in sports. Here we do, so I’m not thrilled in writing this morning that the Baltimore Orioles tied Tampa yesterday 3-3 in Port Charlotte, FL. Even in Spring Training, I’m just a fan of having some sort of resolution to the game as opposed to just “calling it a day.” But the good news is that the games that count don’t ever conclude as such.
Ubaldo Jimenez became the second Oriole pitcher to go six innings in a game this spring, and he
was in line for the win until the last of the ninth. Jimenez’s line: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Jimenez game up a two-run homer to James Loney in the last of the first, however those were the only runs Tampa netted off of the Orioles’ starter. Perhaps another interesting twist is that Jimenez only struck out one batter. Most people might look at that and say he needs to step it up. However that also means that he was getting the ball put in play – and yielding outs at that.
With Tampa leading 2-0 after one, Delmon Young hit his first homer of the spring in the top of the second. Coming into the game, Young was 8-for-33 in spring games. Steve Clevenger, who appears to have made the team as a backup catcher (by default if nothing else), tied the game in the fourth with a fielder’s choice that scored Henry Urrutia from third. Urrutia had previously reached base on a double, and went to third on a base hit by the aforementioned Delmon Young.
One inning later in the fifth, Michael Almanzar hit an RBI-single up the middle that scored Alexi Casilla from second, giving the O’s a 3-2 lead. Casilla was only on second because Tampa left fielder Brandon Guyer lost what should have been a routine pop fly in the sun. Tampa would put across an 11th hour run in the last of the ninth to tie the game, and we went to a nominal 10th inning to break the tie. The Orioles brought in reliever Alfredo Aceves to pitch the last of the inning, which gave us somewhat of a bizzare scene. Aceves immediately signaled that there was an issue with the landing area of the mound, which is normally a quick fix. However the grounds crew appeared to have gone home for the day; finally someone appeared to try to fix the issue, and he was promptly assisted by none other than Buck Showalter in raking the dirt on the mound.
Aceves would retire the side, so perhaps his protest was worth the while. Aceves signed a minor league deal with the Birds, so his spot in the Orioles’ pen is not guaranteed. So while it delayed the game at the end, it’s well worth him ensuring that he’s comfortable out on the mound; and furthermore that has to show Buck Showalter the type of attention to detail for which he’s looking out of his players.
The Orioles will return home to Sarasota tomorrow to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at Ed Smith Stadium. Kevin Gausman will get the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Gerrit Cole of Pittsburgh. The only two members of the starting rotation to whom Buck Showalter has committed are of course Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez. Tillman was expected to start yesterday however he was scratched due to a flu bug. Showalter said that he’s planning on giving Tillman a start in one of the final games to put him on his five days’ rest rotation to prepare for Opening Day on Monday, March 31st. So I would expect him to start either Wednesday afternoon at Boston, Wednesday night at Tampa (split squad day for the Orioles), or Thursday night vs. Tampa in Sarasota. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ubaldo Jimenez get a start in there as well, as he’ll be starting Wednesday April 2nd against Boston in the second game of the season.