The Baltimore Orioles played two games on Saturday with a number of positive takeaways and some concerning observations.
After going to bed at around 9 pm on Saturday night, I assumed the time change wouldn’t have much of an impact, but here I am, all out of sorts as I frantically pack for a three-day trip to Baltimore. Unfortunately, the Baltimore Orioles are in Sarasota for a few more weeks doing spring training things so no O’s baseball for me while I’m there.
In trying to understand what happened in yesterday’s split-squad games between the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees, “spring training things” is one of the best descriptors I can come up with, at the moment.
To kick things off, Dylan Bundy and a collection of exciting young prospects, which included Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays, went on the road to take on the Tampa Bay Rays. In a near four-hour spring training contest, the Orioles outlasted the Rays by a final score of 17-15, in a game that featured 28 hits and nine errors between the two teams.
Let’s start with the good news from this game. The duo of Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle combined to go 5-8 with eight runs driven in, two home runs, and four runs scored. Hays continues to show that his ankle is 100% and shouldn’t even be a talking point. He’s making a serious case to break camp with the team. If Brandon Hyde wants to take the best team he can up north, it will likely include Hays.
The focus of Mountcastle’s spring training has been his defense and transition to first base. The move has been very positive and yesterday’s outing at the plate shows exactly why he will be the starting first baseman for the Baltimore Orioles before 2019 is over.
The six errors committed by the Orioles’ defense isn’t much of a concern, seeing as three of them came from Martin Cervenka, who is a minor league player to keep an eye on in 2019 but isn’t breaking camp with the team. Stevie Wilkerson and Jack Reinheimer accounted for the other three errors, two more players who we likely won’t see in Camden Yards to begin the year.
Now for the concerning news, Dylan Bundy. Bundy failed to make it out of the second inning, giving up six runs on six hits while walking one and failing to record a strikeout. We have seen Bundy’s fastball velocity dip over the past few seasons, but as the Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli pointed out as he watched Saturday’s outing, Bundy’s fastball was sitting 89-91 mph against the Rays.
In each of his spring outings, Bundy has continued to give up the long ball and opponents have feasted on his fastball. I’m more than willing to wait until the regular season, but Bundy isn’t bringing about any feelings of confidence as we move closer and closer to the start of the regular season.
Baltimore Orioles fall to the New York Yankees in the nightcap.
In a game that took just 2 hours and 44 minutes, the Orioles struggled to get runners on base against Luis Cessa and the New York Yankees, eventually falling by a final score of 6-1. The lone run came off the bat of J.C. Escarra, a minor leaguer who played for both the Aberdeen Ironbirds and Frederick Keys last season, hitting .315 with seven home runs between the two levels.
Baltimore hitters have been very patient this spring, but flipped the switch and took a very aggressive approach against New York. There was a lot of first-pitch swinging, likely a planned mode of attack for Brandon Hyde‘s lineup in this one.
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The biggest positive takeaway from the game was obviously Richard Bleier‘s return to the mound. Bleier was on a strict pitch count and last just two-thirds of an inning after allowing three runs on three hits. His defense didn’t help him, but Bleier did not look like a pitcher who hasn’t climbed the mound in a game in about nine months.
David Hess put in another big outing, giving up two runs on three hits in 3.1 innings of work. He sat down three via the strikeout and didn’t allow a single free pass. The 25-year-old has allowed just two walks in 10.1 total spring innings, a positive sign for Hess who is now all but guaranteed to make the starting rotation, if Nate Karns begins the year on the injured list or in the bullpen.
Baltimore returns to the field on Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies. Josh Rogers will take the mound against a Bryce Harper-less Phillies. Unfortunately, there is no TV coverage for today’s game.