” Some days you win, some days you lose, and some days it rains.” That’s a famous quote from the legendary movie, Bull Durham. The key to a good comeback is to never be down big to begin with. The Baltimore Orioles couldn’t muster that yesterday, as they found themselves down early thanks in part to two homers off of starter Bud Norris. Norris’ line: 4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Norris downplayed the result after leaving the game to MASNsports’ Steve Melewski:
"It’s not about numbers right now. It’s tough. You want to put up a bunch of zeroes, but it’s not necessarily the No. 1 priority, which is the health. You get 30 starts up there to make sure you get a lot of good numbers. Down here, you are getting your work in and that is the No. 1 focus. I felt great, the fastball is coming along great and really just want to keep going."
Don’t misread Norris’ statement as not taking accountability. Players always want to get better. Right now he’s just trying to get through spring training without any major injuries so that he can continue to be a force on the Orioles’ pitching staff come the regular season.
The good news of course is that for the second consecutive game, Oriole bats were hot. Chris Davis celebrated St. Patrick’s Day as well as his birthday with a solo homer in the last of the first. However Minnesota would use two long balls to take a 3-1 lead after four innings. Minnesota would eventually take a 10-1 lead after six innings after homering for the cycle (a solo shot, two-run, three-run, and a grand slam).
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However the biggest issue for the Orioles was Ryan Flaherty, who was hit in the batting helmet in the last of the sixth. Flaherty was able to walk down to third base, before he eventually went to the clubhouse and was removed from the game. Obviously with concussion protocol in sports being what it is, the O’s weren’t taking any chances. Nor should they. In situations like these the player is always going to want to stay in the game, provided that he is able. But that’s where management needs to ensure that things are handled properly, and Buck Showalter did just that. Flaherty will be re-evaluated in the morning, but preliminary examinations seemed to indicate that he would be fine.
At 10-1, things look pretty bleak – especially in a spring training game. But these are the Fighting Showalters, and they
Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
never quit – despite often having long odds. J.J. Hardy racked up a two-RBI single in the sixth, along with Steve Clevenger and Dariel Alvarez‘s fielder’s choice-RBI an inning later. With the lead down to 10-5, Jimmy Paredes added a two-RBI triple in the seventh to trim the lead to 10-7.
Clevenger would add a two-RBI double in the eighth to bring the O’s to within 10-9. However keep in mind that when you get down by nine runs it’s tough to come back. Chalk this up as just a bad day to be a pitcher, and that’s something that we often see in spring training. The only difference is that the O’s gave up their runs early, while Minnesota waited until the closing innings of the game.
Chris Davis impressed with a home run in his second consecutive game, something that should stick out at Buck Showalter. As I’ve said before, Davis is being relied heavily upon to help make up some of the power that the Orioles lost with Nelson Cruz‘s departure in the off season. Now if the likes of Jones, Machado, and Wieters can help out also, this offense will be in good shape.
Speaking of which, Matt Wieters caught six innings in the game yesterday, which was his first action in a league game behind the dish since last May. Wieters said he felt good, although not one runner attempted to steal on him throughout his time in the game. The Orioles had unofficially said since the beginning that March 17th was the target date for Wieters to return to the field, so by all accounts he’s right on schedule.
The Orioles will travel to Ft. Myers today in order to play Minnesota once again. Minnesota is starting Mike Pelfrey, against an Oriole starter who’s TBD. Game time is 1 PM.