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Grapefruit League Game #2: Rays 6, Orioles 5

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Today's game wasn't broadcast anywhere (although that didn't stop loyal Camden Chatters from obsessively refreshing the box score, which I think is awesome), and I missed the entire thing due to being in a class for work. It was an eventful game, though, so through multiple posts by Roch Kubatko and Brittany Ghiroli and one boxscore, I present you with a game recap so clear that you'd think I was watching from Port Charlotte myself (as an aside, for future games that don't have any broadcast, I highly suggest following Ghiroli's twitter and blog in addition to the refresh parade. The volume of material that woman puts out is impressive). 

The Orioles faced the Tampa Bay Rays for the second day in a row today, this time at the Rays' home park in Port Charlotte. After most of the regulars started the spring opener, today's lineup was quite underwhelming. With the exception of Felix Pie and Brandon Snyder there was little to look forward to. Pie, batting leadoff, immediately picked up where yesterday's hit parade left off as he took Rays starter Jeff Niemann deep on a 2-2 count to put the O's up 1-0. Niemann retired the fearsome trio of Robert Andino, Lou Montanez, and Ty Wigginton to get out of the first inning without allowing any more damage. 

No matter, because the end of the top of the first meant the first spring start by Brian Matusz. Matusz made short work of Gabe Kapler (K'd on a change up) and Carl Crawford (K'd on a fastball), but Evan Longoria proved a bit tougher. Matusz quickly went 0-2 before Longoria began fouling off pitch after pitch. Brian prevailed in the end, but only after Longoria worked him for a 13 pitch strike out. Kubatko has a good piece on the at bat with quotes by Matusz here. To Longoria's credit, he did say he was trying to put the ball in play. I say don't worry about it, Evan, that won't be your only K against Matusz this season. 

After Niemann got the side in order in the second (another imposing threesome: Scott Moore, Jeff Salazar...who?, and Brandon Snyder), Matusz came back out for his second inning of work. The leadoff man reached on SS Blake Davis' error and after striking out Pat Burrell, Matusz gave up a HR to Sean Rodriguez. His pitch limit reached, Matusz's day was over. Not the most effective outing in history, but all four of his outs came via the K. The extended AB by Longoria and the error by Davis were his undoing, as was the wind. Kubatko noted that the Rodriguez HR barely cleared the fence and according to Ghiroli it would have been a pop up on most days but the wind got a hold of it. 

Following Matusz on the day were pitchers Ross Wolf, Koji Uehara, Mark Hendrickson, Kam Mickolio, Wilfredo Perez, Jason Berken and Mike Hinkley.  Wolf, Koji, Berken, and Perez all had good outings. Wolf finished the 2nd inning without allowing a hit and the others each contributed a 1-2-3 inning, with Koji only needing 8 pitches. Hendrickson didn't fare so well, allowing two runs on a couple doubles, a single, and a walk (although one double was on a play that should have been made by Montanez in RF). Golden boy Mickolio also had a less than stellar day, giving up 1 walk, 1 hit, and 1 run. 

The Orioles offense fell behind early but fought back to tie the game in the top of the 9th. After 2 RBI double by Montanez (do I even have to say it?) in the 5th and an RBI triple by Miguel Abreu in the 7th, 2B Justin Turner hit a solo HR off of Rays pitcher Alexander Torres to make the score 5-5. Mike Hinkley came on to pitch the bottom of the 9th and I have to say he's not doing such a good job competing for that lefty bullpen spot. He had trouble in Monday's intrasquad game and today he allowed a lead off triple to Elliott Johnson, walked two, and surrendered an RBI single to Matt Joyce to end the game with the Rays winning 6-5. 

On the injury front, Pie also legged out a triple but left the game with a sore quad. He wanted to stay in the game, of course, but Trembley told him, "You hit a home run and a triple. That was enough. You didn't have to show me any more." The leg injury isn't serious and after his scheduled day off tomorrow Pie will return to action Saturday against the Tigers. Brian Roberts didn't make the trip to Port Charlotte with the club and there is still no estimated date on when he'll make his ST debut. I heard him talking to Scott Garceau on 105.7 today and he said that Aubrey Huff sent him a text message telling him to stop faking an injury so that he doesn't have to work out as hard during ST. I guess Huff has heard about Roberts' penchant for lollygagging.

The Orioles face the Pirates tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. with Chris Tillman facing off against Zach Duke. The game will be broadcast on 105.7 and I have planned a lovely evening tomorrow of cracking open a bottle of wine, putting Joe Angel on the radio, and finishing the Orioles SB Nation preview. 

I leave you with the best quote of the day, by Dave Trembley and about Brian Matusz: "He's got a toolbox and he knows how to use the tools that are in that toolbox."