Baltimore Orioles starting to heat up


At the beginning of the spring we were saying for fans not to fret, as the games didn’t mean anything. And we all remember how the losses seemed to be piling up in those first two weeks of games. So bearing that in mind, the games are still meaningless; however the Baltimore Orioles are starting to hit their stride right when one would want to do so in spring training. With yesterday’s 5-3 victory over Minnesota in Fort Myers, the Birds have now won four straight.

Again, it’s not so much how things end up in these spring games, it’s how they occur. Miguel Gonzalez turned in a decent effort, although there were some things that he’ll want back in a sense. Gonzalez’s line: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K. Gonzalez had a laborious first inning, and one in which he loaded the bases with nobody out at that. However he pitched out of it and minimized the damage, allowing only one run on Tori Hunter’s GIDP. 

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After the game manager Buck Showalter told MASNsports‘ Roch Kubatko the following on Gonzalez:

"The 15-pitch at-bat, he was supposed to go 85, but after he had to go so deep in the tank there we didn’t want to continue pushing the envelope. But he was good. Good stuff. He was crisp."

I love that word, crisp, when it comes to players in games – especially in spring training. It tells you that guys are getting into game shape, and that they’re ready to go for the regular season. As I alluded above, the plan was for Gonzalez to go deeper in the game than into the fourth inning; but the number of pitches was more important than anything else.

The O’s tied the game in the second on a Caleb Joseph RBI-double, and then took the lead later in the inning on a Steve Pearce three-run homer. Minnesota would

Courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

get back to within 4-2 on Joe Mauer‘s RBI-double in the last of the third, however Delmon Young would add a solo shot of his own in the fifth. Kurt Suzuki closed out the scoring with an RBI-double in the sixth inning, and the O’s headed back to Sarasota with their fourth straight victory.

Again, these games are more imortant for how things happen as opposed to the final score. But as I said above, the O’s are starting to show signs of getting hot at the right time in spring training. Often times as we reach the midpoint guys start to get restless and they almost hit a brick wall in a sense. But the pitching is starting to resemble that of last year, and the bats are starting to heat up.

We’re also seeing more and more “regulars” coming on road trips; Adam Jones, Steve Pearce, and Manny Machado (among others) made the trip yesterday. That’s another sign that the season is starting to get within reach. But in looking at the pitching yesterday, if the Birds can keep teams to three runs or less consistently this year, they’re going to be a force.

Unfortunately the day started on a damp note with the announcement that catcher Matt Wieters would probably start the season on the DL. Wieters of course had been shut down last week due to tendonitis in his surgically-repaired elbow. Buck Showalter was quick to say that this is almost a precaution, and that Wieters’ anticipated return date was April 11th. X-rays came back negative on his elbow, which means that this should be cured with rest.

So that means that barring something strange happening, Caleb Joseph will most likely be the starting catcher out of the gate. Thus the battle for back-up catcher is probably going to be one of the most interesting position battles for the remainder of camp. The Orioles have three options: Steve Clevenger, JP Arencibia, and Ryan Lavarnway. If it were up to me I’d go with Clevenger; but it’s not my decision.

As if the Wieters thing wasn’t enough, the Orioles also got a scare when pitching prospect Hunter Harvey took a comebacker off his ankle in a minor league game against Minnesota. Luckily x-rays were negative and Harvey is going to be fine. The O’s will return to Sarasota this afternoon to take on St. Louis at Ed Smith Stadium. Bud Norris will get the start today for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by old foe John Lackey.

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