The largest crowd the Orioles have gathered for spring training since moving to Sarasota came out to watch the first home game of spring against the Tigers on Wednesday afternoon. The 8,367 in the sellout crowd were treated to a game that featured some late rallies by the O's, although they ultimately came up short, dropping a 5-4 contest for their second straight loss to begin the Grapefruit League season.
There'd be little enough reason to panic if the O's started out the regular season 0-2. There's even less reason to worry about starting the spring season 0-2. Sure, you would have liked to see the O's starting position players get more than three hits combined before they got lifted for replacements, but it is early yet. They all have a month to tune up, and the fact that Chaz Roe gave up four runs to the Tigers in two innings of work on March 4 is not something that has any bearing on the future of this team.
Kevin Gausman started the game for the Orioles. He only pitched one inning in which he faced the minimum three batters before being lifted. Is there anything to read into the tea leaves in Gausman being limited to one inning? Perhaps the O's are making sure he will be able to keep pitching deep into the season. Hopefully they plan to have all of his innings this year in the big league starting rotation.
Following Gausman, T.J. McFarland allowed two hits but no runs in his two innings of work, striking out three batters. Dylan Bundy worked a scoreless fourth, although he walked two batters in the process and also uncorked a wild pitch. Dan Duquette appeared on the radio broadcast during the game and said he thinks Bundy needs more innings in the minors but he hopes Bundy will be able to help the team this year.
Neither team got on the board until the fifth inning, when Roe ran into difficulty and gave up three runs on three hits, including a two-run shot by Nick Castellanos that O's left fielder Alejandro De Aza may have actually knocked over the fence by accident. Oops. The game was only broadcast on Baltimore radio, so we only had the word of Joe Angel and Fred Manfra on that topic.
Roe allowed another run in the sixth on a hit and two walks. In two innings, he gave up four runs on five hits and two walks. Non-roster invitees, what can you do?
Ryan Webb, who does figure to be in the bullpen picture, gave up a run in an inning of work in the seventh. He gave up two hits but was mostly done in by a wild pitch allowing Dixon Machado to advance after a single. That put him in easy scoring position for a single hit by top Tigers prospect Steven Moya.
The O's offense didn't get onto the board until the bottom of the eighth inning. That's familiar territory for the Tigers bullpen against the Orioles. On the other hand, Jayson Nix and Dariel Alvarez didn't have a whole lot to do with the ALDS. Nix reached on a single and later ended up on third base after an errant pickoff throw from pitcher Blaine Hardy. Both teams used a Hardy and a Machado in the game. No relation.
It was Alvarez who drove in Nix for the first Orioles run. Steve Pearce added in a single, leaving the O's with two men on and none out. After Christian Walker popped out, Chris Parmelee moved up the runners on a groundout. That allowed both runners to score when Nolan Reimold delivered a base hit that dropped in front of the Tigers center fielder, former O's prospect Xavier Avery. A groundout by Jimmy Paredes ended the threat in the eighth.
Down to their last out in the ninth, the O's got the tying run to the plate with no one out after Rey Navarro led off with a walk. He was promptly erased on a 3-6-1 double play off the bat of Steve Clevenger. They pulled back within a run on a solo home run hit by Nix but that was as close as they got. The game ended on what sounded to be a web gem-quality play at shortstop by Dixon Machado, who fielded a tough ball and threw out Alvarez to close out the contest.
Joe and Fred seemed to think this play was close but the Tigers got the benefit of the call. Nobody really wants extra innings in a spring training game anyway.
Tomorrow there will be twice as much Orioles action. They've got split squad games set up, with a road crew heading to Rays camp for a 1:05 game that will only be on MLB.com radio. The nightcap is in Sarasota against the Jays. This will be the first MASN broadcast of spring. Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer were both sighted in Sarasota on Wednesday, so hopefully that means that is the duo for the television broadcast.
Wei-Yin Chen is starting in the day game in Port Charlotte. Miguel Gonzalez is the starter for the night game.