Baltimore Orioles close with a win in Sarasota


I was a little surprised to see the Baltimore Orioles pull Ubaldo Jimenez out of last night’s game after only four innings. However Jimenez did have a semi-laborious first inning, and Buck Showalter had several other guys at whom he wanted to get a look in what ended up being a 3-2 win over Atlanta at Ed Smith Stadium. Jimenez’s line: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

Atlanta put a runner on base right off the bat, and Jace Peterson’s RBI-double in the first gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead. However while he threw quite a few pitches, Jimenez pitched out of a jam later in the inning with a couple of guys on base. While we’re still in spring training, that type of inning might cost him an inning of work at the end. However in a real game in the regular season, the act of pitching out of a jam is valuable. Jimenez was also hit by a Christian Betancourt liner off his foot in the second, but he stayed in the game.

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The O’s got an RBI-single from Travis Snider in the last of the second to tie the game at one. Later in the inning Caleb Joseph would add a sac fly-RBI to center, which scored Manny Machado from third and gave the Birds a 2-1 lead. All in all, the Orioles sent eight men to the plate in the second inning. Speaking of Machado, he got on base with an inpromptu first-pitch push bunt which caught Atlanta off guard. If he can consistently add that to his repetoire at the plate, we’ll see him on base a lot more this year because it’ll make opposing defenses think.

The final Oriole run of spring training at Ed Smith Stadium was scored in the last of the fifth off of an Alejandro De Aza home run. Kelly Johnson would add an RBI-single for Atlanta in the eighth inning to close out the scoring in the Orioles’ 3-2 win. For good measure, Showalter summoned Zach Britton from the ‘pen to close out the game in the ninth, and he retired Atlanta 1-2-3. Incidentally, De Aza’s homer was the 37th home run off of Oriole bats in Grapefruit League play – that leads the major leagues.

Prior to the game the Orioles got a bit of bad news, as we found out that Jimmy Paredes would probably be sent to the DL with a muscle strain in his back. As we’ve seen time and time again, some of these roster decisions work their own ways out; the O’s were having a tough time figuring out how they would keep Paredes along with Ryan Flaherty and Evereth Cabrera. Now the decision is made for them. Effectively this will merely defer the decision, however in the interim the O’s have found a solution – or a solution has been found on their behalf. Paredes will be eligible to come off the DL on April 16th.

Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

The fate of Jimenez is not yet totally known, but it appears that he’ll be on the roster – technically in the bullpen to start off. But Buck Showalter only needs four starters for the first week given that Thursday will be an off day, so I suspect Jimenez will start out in the ‘pen. And quite frankly I think that’s a good thing given the fact that the first turn or two through the rotation some starters might not be able to go as deep into games as they will come June and July. So extra depth in the ‘pen is a win-win for everyone.

Jimenez had a rocky start to the spring, however if they gave out awards for the Grapefruit League he’d certainly be in the running for “Comeback Player of the Year.” I would say that withstanding his first outing (perhaps his first two), he had a great spring training. And he admitted as much last night, courtesy of Roch Kubatko of MASNsports:

"Since the first day that I got here, I was able to improve,” he said. “I got better and better with my command and now I have all my pitches working right now."

The Orioles will officially close out the spring this afternoon with a third and final game against Atlanta, once again in Orlando. Minor Leaguer Zach Davies will get the start, and he’ll be joined on the field by many of his fellow farmhands. This game will probably resemble week four of the NFL preseason, when most teams don’t play any of their starters. As MASN analyst Mike Bordick said on last night’s telecast, many Oriole regulars ended up coming on various road trips this spring due to the schedule being loaded heavily with road games. So most of them finished their spring up yesterday.

Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette will be working hard up until the 3 PM deadline tomorrow for rosters to be submitted. They need to figure out whether or not they have a manner by which to keep the likes of Nolan Reimold, TJ McFarland, Steve Clevenger, and a few others. We know that Chris Davis will have to sit out Monday’s opening day game in Tampa to complete his suspension. However the O’s will have to make a move on Tuesday to put Davis back on the 40-man roster. At the end of the day, trust in Showalter and Duquette – they’ve proven time and time again that they know what they’re doing.

The Orioles will officially “break camp” after today’s game, and head north – to Tampa. They’ll have a workout tomorrow at Tropicana Field, and then open the season on Monday afternoon. Look for the “official” Birds Watcher season preview tomorrow morning. I know I’m excited.

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