If you're going to start to get hot in spring training, the time to do it is surely in the second half of the schedule as the regulars play more and the season looms ever closer. The Orioles took down their fourth straight win and their fifth win out of their last six games with a 5-3 win over the Twins on Saturday afternoon.
Most of the damage the Orioles did on offense came on home runs. That has been true in recent years and will probably continue to be so. Steve Pearce delivered a three-run home run as part of a four-run second inning against Twins starter Tommy Milone.
Delmon Young added a solo home run that traveled approximately 500 miles in the fifth inning, the home run coming about one second after O's radio broadcaster Joe Angel finished his statement that Young had yet to hit a home run in spring training. Angel proclaimed it was an anti-jinx. That was a nice trick.
The starting pitchers are working up their pitch counts as spring moves along. Today's O's starter was Miguel Gonzalez. He was scheduled to toss 75 pitches in the game. He ended up going over that by a few and he was not able to finish the fourth inning. The day could have gone worse, actually. Gonzalez faced the bases loaded with no one out in the first inning after issuing three straight singles. A run scored on a Torii Hunter double play grounder. Sometimes the best you can do is limit the damage.
Minnesota held a 1-0 lead after the first. The Orioles piled on some runs in the top of the second, with most scoring on Pearce's home run. The first O's run in the inning scored when Caleb Joseph doubled in Jonathan Schoop, who had walked. Both Schoop and Adam Jones had a walk in the first plate appearance each received in the game. Pull that trick in the regular season some time, guys!
The O's lead was 4-1 after two. The Twins pulled a run back in the third inning on an RBI double off the bat of Joe Mauer. Gonzalez came out of the game in the fourth after giving up a two out double to Kurt Suzuki. T.J. McFarland stranded the runner he inherited, though he allowed a run in the sixth inning on doubles from Hunter and Suzuki. McFarland pitched 2.1 innings and gave up the one run on two hits and a walk. He also struck out three.
The score was 5-3 after six. Neither team scored for the remainder of the game. Zach Britton tossed a scoreless seventh for the O's, striking out one. Ryan Webb gave up one hit in a scoreless eighth and Rule 5 pick Logan Verrett closed out the game with a scoreless ninth, also giving up one hit. Verrett has now pitched ten innings in the Grapefruit League season, allowing only two runs in that time.
For the game, the Twins out-hit the Orioles, 10-8. The Orioles got the big three-run home run when they needed it. If that kind of thing can happen often in the regular season, this will be a good year.
Next up for the Orioles is a home game against the Cardinals at 1:05 on Sunday. There will be no TV broadcast of the game, but you can listen on either 105.7 FM in Baltimore or the Cardinals broadcast through MLB's GameDay Audio.