I'm already ready for Spring Training to end and just get on with the season already. It was so great to see baseball on MASN today with our friends Gary Thorne and Amber Theoharis. And seeing a live baseball game on HD after so many months is a treat for sure. I loved seeing the Ed on TV for the first time and my first live glimpse of the players. But it's not a real game. There's no urgency or emotion. Sadly the thing that made it most like a regular season game was the influx of chanting Red Sox fans.
Jeremy Guthrie made his second start of the spring and had a few bumps but didn't look bad. He walked two but his pitches looked good. I suppose it's ST for the umpires as well. He made it through 2.1 innings allowing 1 run. Back-to-back singles in the 2nd inning followed by a walk to Tug Hulett (son of Tim) loaded the bases with none out and the run scored on a chopper to third base. Miguel Tejada made a nice play and got the out at first on a very strong throw. Miggi definitely still has his arm. The Red Sox wouldn't score again off of Guthrie as he wriggled out of trouble with a pop up and a fly ball to RF.
Following Guthrie on the day were Chris George, Mark Hendrickson, Will Ohman, Kam Mickolio, Jason Berken, Armando Gabino, and David Hernandez. It was a good day for Orioles pitching for the most part. Chris George, a 30 year old righty who will serve as minor league filler, looked good as did Hendo and Ohman. Ohman in particular really impressed me. I'd never seen him pitch before and his location was outstanding. The box score will show he allowed a hit but it was an infield grounder that rolled too slowly for Tejada to get He struck out two and was keeping the ball on the corners and down in the zone. He also gets bonus points for rocking high socks.
Kam Mickolio looked shaky but was helped greatly by defense. David Ortiz launched a ball to the left-center gap that was run down impressively by Jonathan Tucker, and the second batter hit a sharp ball that 2B Miguel Abreu made a great play on, diving to his right and getting the out at first. The third batter of the inning, Jed Lowrie, also went to left-center but Tucker couldn't get a hold of it and Lowrie made it to 2B. Mickolio got it together for the last batter, striking Hulett out.
Armando Gabino was just terrible on the mound. He faced five batters and retired just one. Gabino's chances of making the team out of ST are practically non-existent so it's not worth much concern, but it would have been nice to see him do well. He was just a HR short of the cycle as he gave up a two singles, a double, and a triple resulting in three runs. David Hernandez relieved him and struck out two to end the inning.
Hernandez ended up taking the loss for O's but he actually looked quite good. After ending the 8th with back-to-back strikeouts he started the 9th with two more, and with two outs in the 9th Mark Wagner hit a high fly ball that carried out of the park, putting the Red Sox up 5-4. Hernandez became known for giving up HR last season but this one was, like many of the HR so far this spring, aided by the wind.
There was one HR hit today that didn't need any help from the wind and it came off the bat of Nick Markakis in the first inning. Clay Buchholz threw a pitch low and inside to Nick and he put a great swing on it and crushed it over the right field fence. It was great to see as I continue to be convinced the Nick is going to have a killer year.
As beautiful as Nick's HR was, the standout O of the day was minor leaguer Miguel Abreu. Abreu made two very good defensive plays at second base to help out his pitchers. In addition to the play he made behind Mickolio he also made a great play on a sharply hit ball hit far to his left. He laid out completely and made an excellent stop. At the plate Abreu was the only Oriole with multiple hits and he scored two of the O's four runs. In the 2nd he singled and and eventually scored on a hit by Adam Jones. And in the 6th he singled, stole second base, and scored on a single by Pedro Florimon.
Tomorrow the Orioles play the Minnesota Twins at 1:05 p.m. with Brian Matusz on the mound. He'll be followed by Jim Johnson, Koji Uehara, and Wilfredo Perez. That's a pretty good spread of pitchers, should be a good game. Nick Blackburn is schedule to start for the Twins. The game will be broadcast on 105.7 The Fan. The next televised broadcast is this Wednesday, March 10th on MLBN.