[Note from Stacey: Everyone please welcome Paul Folkemer to Camden Chat. He'll be helping out this season with some recaps and other stuff.]
The Orioles' bats finally made their way to Florida, as the previously struggling O's offense erupted for a spring-best 11 runs in a trouncing of the Twins in Fort Myers. For the second time this spring, the Birds knocked around their probable Opening Day opponent, Twins starter Carl Pavano, pasting the veteran righty for six runs and eight hits in four innings.
Four Orioles enjoyed multi-hit games, led by Wilson Betemit, who showed signs of life at last with a 3-for-4 day and his first homer. Betemit was a triple shy of the cycle. Ryan Flaherty and Nick Johnson continued to hit their way onto the Orioles' likely Opening Day roster. Flaherty was 2-for-4 with a two-run triple while starting in right field. Skipper Buck Showalter is clearly trying to carve out a role for Flaherty as a jack-of-all-trades super-sub. Not a bad idea. If the Orioles have to keep him on the active 25-man roster all year, why not squeeze as much usefulness out of the guy as possible? The fact that he can actually hit doesn't hurt, either.
Johnson, meanwhile, contributed a pair of RBIs and is hitting .300 on the spring. Spring training stats don't mean much of anything, but the important thing is that Johnson looks healthy and is again looking like the on-base machine he used to be. He'll be a useful bat off the bench-- or in the starting lineup-- assuming he can avoid a catastrophic injury before Opening Day.
Xavier Avery, who I call "Xavery" to save time, was a table-setter at the top of the lineup with three hits, including two doubles. Chris Davis mashed a homerun, and so did Trent Mummey. Trent Mummey, really? All right, that's fine. All told, the O's had 14 hits, nine for extra bases.
Wei-Yin Chen delivered an impressive start for the Birds, working five strong innings and holding the Twins to four hits. He gave up just one run, which came in the first inning when left fielder Nolan Reimold misplayed a pair of fly balls into doubles. Poor Nolan. He's struggling at the plate, struggling in the outfield, and took a fastball to the face. It's been a rough spring.
Chen threw 43 of his 72 pitches for strikes. Last time he pitched, he got noticeably tired in the fifth inning, but this time he mowed through a perfect fifth to cap his outing. Jim Johnson, Dana Eveland, Chris Tillman, and ex-Twin Pat Neshek each threw a scoreless inning of relief. Most notably, Tillman struck out the side in the eighth. Too bad it's sort of a foregone conclusion that Chris will open the season in the minors, as he's had flashes of brilliance this spring.
With the win, the O's are now 7-9-4 in Grapefruit League play. I'm just glad it wasn't another tie.