Maybe the Orioles just needed to stop playing the Tigers to get a win in the Grapefruit League. On the road in Port Charlotte for the afternoon half of a split squad day, the O's road warriors scored three runs in the last two innings against the Rays and held on for a 3-2 victory to win their first game of spring training. There's another game still to come on Thursday night, which will be televised on MASN at the standard civilized starting time for baseball, 7:05pm Eastern time.
There aren't many days where you have to shovel snow and can still watch live Orioles baseball that night, but we're getting one of them today. Spring training is strange.
Through their three spring training games, the O's have done most of their scoring late in games. This was not an exception on Thursday afternoon. The game was scoreless on both sides until the Rays got on the board in the seventh inning against Mark Hendrickson.
Starting Orioles position players only recorded a total of three hits before they were lifted later on in the game. This has been a theme through three games. It's far too early to make anything of it, especially since a starting lineup that has #3 hitter Steve Clevenger is not going to be something we see so often in the regular season.
When the Orioles did get on base, there were TOOTBLANs. Oh, God, the TOOTBLANs. If you didn't know, TOOTBLAN stands for Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop and was first coined in response to Ryan Theriot's time with the Cubs.
It is used to refer to boneheaded baserunning, which encompasses nearly all baserunning that results in an unecessary out on the basepaths, and it was in full display on Thursday afternoon.
One Oriole even committed the rare Double TOOTBLAN within a single game: This was the former Padres All-Star shortstop, who was playing second base today. He managed to get himself doubled off of first after a first inning walk. Those listening to Rays announcers on the radio thought this sounded like a lack of hustle or perhaps awareness when Clevenger popped up into the infield.
Later, after another walk, Clevenger followed with a single and today's TOOTBLAN artist ended up getting thrown out at second base after he took too wide of a turn around the base. Jimmy Paredes, today's starting third baseman, added a TOOTBLAN of his own when he got thrown out stealing at second base after a one-out single.
About the baserunning miscues, O's manager Buck Showalter said, "I'd like for them to happen now so we can use them as a teaching tool." It's good to have a positive outlook.
O's pitching did well for much of the game. The trio of Wei-Yin Chen, Tyler Wilson, and Jason Garcia each pitched two innings and combined for only four hits and one walk allowed in that time. They also struck out a combined five batters, with two apiece for Garcia and Wlison and one for Chen. Of course, it's only March 5, so that's not worth a whole lot, but you'd rather see these kinds of outings than the one that Ubaldo Jimenez had in the Grapefruit League opener.
The Rays scored first when Mark Hendrickson allowed a leadoff triple to Corey Brown (no relation) immediately followed by a double from Joey Butler. Hendrickson held them to only the one run.
In the top of the eighth, the Orioles evened up the score. David Lough got to first with one out thanks to a throwing error by Rays shortstop Hak-Ju Lee. He advanced to second when Matt Tuiasosopo walked, leaving him in scoring position for a Rey Navarro single that snuck into right field.
A scoreless bottom of the eighth from Zach Davies set up the O's to take the lead in the ninth. Michael Almanzar led off the inning with a home run out into left field to give the O's a 2-1 lead. A pair of infield singles by reserves Brian Ward and Garabez Rosa gave the O's another good scoring chance. Christian Walker lived up to his name and walked to load the bases. They grabbed their third run on a sacrifice fly from minor league outfielder Mike Yastrzemski.
The third run proved important. Non-roster invitee Daniel Rodriguez surrendered a home run to Butler with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. That narrowed the score to 3-2, but he held on and the O's got their first win of the spring.