It's the last day in February and the game doesn't count for anything, but baseball is baseball. The Orioles brought things back with their B-team racking up a win over the Tampa Bay Rays in the opening game of their Grapefruit League schedule. They scored early off of former Oriole Erik Bedard and held on for a 4-2 win on Friday.
Exhibition or not, it's always nice to hear Joe Angel conclude a game by saying, "The Orioles are in the WIN column." Not every O's spring game will be broadcast on TV or even the radio, but this one was on the radio and it was thus blessed at its end.
Only a handful of Orioles you might recognize even made the trip. The starting lineup featured names like Xavier Paul and Alex Gonzalez. Steve Pearce started out the game playing first base. Bench names included the likes of Michael Ohlman and Cord Phelps. The Rays lineup, on the other hand, started out with many of their regulars in it. Joe and Fred Manfra noted that the Rays regulars looked to be behind O's starter Chris Tillman, who tossed a couple of scoreless innings and notched three strikeouts.
Jemile Weeks was the Oriole who made the most of the opportunity given today, leading off the game with a double off Bedard. He added a walk later in the game and stole a base off of Jose Molina. The radio guys noted that the second base job is probably Ryan Flaherty's to lose, but at least for one day, Weeks showed he belongs in that conversation. Yeah, it's one game, but it's better to have that kind of day in a meaningless game than not at all, right?
As you'd expect for an early spring game, there was a parade of relievers from both teams. Tillman was relieved by Zach Britton, who allowed one run on three hits and a walk in two innings. The run scored on a double that, based on what was said on WBAL and also by the beat writers on Twitter, probably should have been corralled by Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar at third base.
After Britton, each pitcher got one inning of work. The other O's who threw in the game were Brad Brach, Eddie Gamboa, Mike Belfiore, Nick Additon, and Tim Alderson. Belfiore was the one with the roughest day, allowing a run on three hits, but he did get out of the jam he created. When Gamboa came on to pitch, Caleb Joseph entered the game at catcher. Perhaps he's finally found his role as a catcher as the designated knuckleball catcher. That's better than nothing.
The Rays used one pitcher per inning, meaning that by the ninth inning they used C.J. Riefenhauser, who appears to actually be a real person, although he is not important enough to have a picture on MLB Gameday. He is important enough that his name auto-tags on our blogging software, so maybe I shouldn't laugh so much about him. He's done well in the Rays minors since converting to relief last season.
Saturday will bring the first opportunity to see the Orioles on TV of the year. The game will be broadcast on MASN, one of a handful of games they're going to show this spring. Since it's a home game, we'll probably even get to see the regulars for at least one at-bat. If we're lucky, Gary Thorne will be broadcasting the game. Either way, it's the Orioles on TV. After four months of inferior sporting events, it's good to have baseball on the way back. The game starts at 1:05.