Hyun-Soo Kim gave the Baltimore Orioles a clutch at-bat late in the game to help them to defeat Philadelphia 8-7.
Let it go said that when the pressure was off in the exhibition finale, the Baltimore Orioles still tried to find a way to win – and it took a clutch at-bat from Hyun-Soo Kim of all people to do it. This was a strange game as far as spring training games go. I call it a strange game only because it involved a rain delay (which usually doesn’t happen in Spring Training), as well as the O’s lifting their starters early on – but after the delay.
Vance Worley drew the start for the Birds, although I’m not sure what type of
read the O’s could have gotten on him. Worley’s line: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K. Worley gave up an RBI-groundout to Franco in the last of the first, and that was it. Following the second inning, the rains came…and it rained, and rained, and then rained some more.
Admittedly, I thought the game was over. While this final game is important for a lot of players trying to make final roster spots, it wouldn’t have made much sense to wait out a lengthy rain delay. But they didn’t – after about 40 minutes, the skies cleared. Incidentally, as of the end of tonight’s game, Worley hasn’t been told whether or not he made the roster. He, along with some other guys are still in the mix.
Joey Rickard would continue his hot spring with an RBI-single in the top of the second. Incidentally, the O’s only started Rickard tonight because they wanted to give him a chance to play in a big league ballpark before the season. And following that second inning came the delay, after which most of the Orioles’ regulars and starters (including Rickard and Worley) found themselves back on the bench.
Following the resumption of play, the Orioles got two-run homers from both Xavier Avery and Steve Tolleson in the top of the fourth. They also got an RBI-groundout from Julio Borbon, which gave them a 6-1 lead. However Philadelphia came to bat in the last of the inning and used solo homers by Franco and Howard to cut the lead to 6-3. They would also notch an RBI-double by Hunter in the last of the sixth to cut it to 6-4.
However Philadelphia wasn’t done. They cut the Orioles’ lead to 6-5 on an RBI-groundout in the last of the eighth. They would then proceed to get a two-run homer off the bat of Darin Ruf, which gave them a 7-6 lead. But even with the reserves in, these Birds don’t just go quietly into the night. Garabez Rosa, who’s had a great spring in his own right, would tie the game at seven with a solo shot of his own in the ninth.
But it was an at-bat from the aforementioned Kim that set the Birds up for victory tonight. Kim, through all of the controversy in which he finds himself now, was sent up as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning. There was one out and runners at first and second. Kim grounded into a fielder’s choice, which sent the go-ahead run to third with two outs. That’s a productive at-bat, which is something that registers with someone like Showalter.
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And sure enough, Philadelphia uncorked a wild pitch which allowed the runner at third to score. That gave the Birds an 8-7 lead. And yes folks, that’s how this seemingly interminable game (following a long spring) would end. So with this victory, the O’s finished Grapefruit League play with a 12-15-5 record – if you’re keeping track at home.
The Orioles are hoping to try to bring Miguel Gonzalez back on a minor league contract after he cleared waivers and became a free agent today. Whether that happens remains to be seen. It also appears that they’re leaning towards giving Kim a roster spot as opposed to releasing him. If that ends up happening (final 25-man rosters are due no later than noon on Sunday), it’ll be interesting to see how they tap dance around keeping him over the course of the season.
The Orioles will not bus back to Baltimore, where they’ll presumably arrive late this evening. Tomorrow is what’s being called a “mandatory day off” for all of the players. I will publish Birds Watcher’s “official” 2016 season preview on Sunday, and of course Monday is Opening Day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards when Minnesota comes to town for the first of a three-game set.