Nothing in spring training counts once Opening Day rolls around. Good thing for the Orioles, because they played a game that several of them are likely to want to forget on Monday afternoon against the Yankees, losing 4-1 after only getting four hits for the whole game.
It’s the kind of game that, in the regular season, would drive fans crazy. Defensive miscues, bad baserunning, an overall lack of offense. This from what was most of the A-list, likely Opening Day lineup. Not exactly filling the place with excitement on the first televised Orioles game of the year. But it doesn’t matter because it’s February 27.
With spring training, it’s more about finding the good signs that you can hang your hat on. The O’s, although they lost the game, did have a couple of players with outings that you can call a good sign.
Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez worked the first two innings, as expected. If you look in the box score and see he gave up a run in two innings, you might not be very impressed, but that run only reached base as a result of Mark Trumbo misplaying a fairly routine ground ball to first base. The scorer called this a single. It was error-worthy.
Other than that, Jimenez was working with good command and mostly kept the ball on the ground. It’s basically everything you would want to see about Jimenez in his first real outing.
Manager Buck Showalter, joining the MASN crew from the dugout for half an inning because it’s spring training, opined that Jimenez looked “as crisp as he has since he’s been an Oriole this spring.”
After coming out of the game, Jimenez also joined the MASN telecast and talked about a mechanical adjustment he made that spurred on his stretch performance last season. Jimenez said he’s been able to carry that over to this spring as well. A better Jimenez is one part of the recipe to the Orioles surprising everybody again.
Vidal Nuño followed Jimenez. His two innings also consisted largely of ground ball outs, with the only blemish in his pitching line being a ball that was scored a “triple” even though it was really just Hyun Soo Kim misplaying a fly ball about as bad as a fly ball can be misplayed.
Kim ran in towards the infield; the ball landed nearly on the warning track, something like 50 feet behind him. Whoops. Not the greatest day for Kim, who also got thrown out attempting to stretch a single into a double. Better to get it all out of the way now. Then again, last spring he endured a long 0-for streak. He’s already better off than that.
With the Orioles only getting four hits, there’s not much to say about their time at the plate. Their lone run was the result of a titanic Jonathan Schoop home run. Yankees left fielder Aaron Hicks never even bothered to turn around to watch the ball sail far over his head and into the stands.
Both the radio and television broadcast crews over the last couple of days have noted that Schoop looks bigger and stronger this year. If that translates into greater home run power and maybe even an OBP over .300, look out, American League. Schoop is about to head to join the Netherlands WBC team and won’t be back in O’s camp for a while.
The Orioles, or at least some of them, will hit the road for their next game tomorrow afternoon, against the Phillies. The game will not be on television or on the radio anywhere in Baltimore. There will be a Philly television feed, for those who are able to get that.
Some other happenings from the game:
- Oliver Drake struggled in the ninth inning, giving up a decisive three-run home run to a Yankees player wearing #86 named Thairo Estrada who has never played above High-A.
- Adam Jones ran a long way and laid out for a diving catch early in the game:
Showalter, who was on the air during this, quipped, “Was he playing too deep there?”
- On the MASN telecast, Jim Palmer identified the incident that caused Chris Davis’s hand injury last season. Palmer said it happened when Davis slid into second base during a game in Tampa early in the season. This game may have been the one.
- In an in-game interview, Mark Trumbo referred to an Orioles player as “the baby pumpkin.” Gary and Jim chuckled but did not ask who that player is. This mystery is ongoing.
- Flamethrowing reliever Tanner Scott pitched the eighth inning. Every fastball Scott threw was 96-98. He got two swinging strikeouts, dropping an 86mph changeup and smoking a 97mph heater past two different Yankees batters. Scott also walked a batter in a scoreless inning.
- Ryan Flaherty did not play in the game because of what Showalter called a little shoulder soreness from throwing a lot. He’s currently expected to play again on Wednesday.
- Elsewhere in spring training, former Oriole Yovani Gallardo gave up four runs on three hits and two walks in the first inning of his first spring start.