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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles showed signs of life

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It’s been a pretty brutal spring for the team and most of its players, but the O’s put on a show in yesterday’s Grapefruit League action.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Baltimore Orioles
Pictured: Freddy Galvis helpfully reminds us of his uniform number.
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

After four consecutive Grapefruit League losses, and eight in their previous nine games, the Orioles busted loose yesterday with a 12-4 pounding of the Pirates in Sarasota, perhaps their best all-around performance of spring so far. Veteran Matt Harvey, one of a slew of hurlers making a bid for a rotation spot, was...well, not stupendous, but not terrible, either. He gave up two runs and five hits, but also fanned four batters and walked none in four innings, and reportedly hit 96 mph on the radar gun. Considering the uninspiring outings by other rotation candidates this spring, Harvey may have taken a step forward by being adequate. Another contender, Keegan Akin, worked the final three innings and struck out five, holding the Pirates to one run.

The real story was the offense, which erupted for 15 hits by 12 different batters, among them a slew of prospects. Recently acquired Jahmai Jones (MLB Pipeline’s No. 19 O’s prospect) bashed a three-run homer as part of an eight-run seventh inning. Tyler Nevin (No. 23) went 2-for-2 with an RBI. Yusniel Diaz (No. 8) had a walk and an RBI single. And low-minors infield prospects Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg, the No. 6 and 7 prospects respectively, each contributed a hit, including Henderson’s two-run single.

A few veterans stepped up, too. Austin Hays and Freddy Galvis continued their sizzling springs with a home run apiece, while the previously slumping Rio Ruiz, in his first game action in nine days, ripped a pair of doubles. Perhaps the Orioles’ rumored agreement with third baseman Maikel Franco has Ruiz in fight-for-a-job mode.

With two weeks left in the Grapefruit League schedule, the O’s, now sitting at 4-10-1, could use a few more games like yesterday’s to build some positive vibes heading into the regular season. They’ll be back in action this afternoon at 1, and if you’ve got MLB.tv, you can catch the festivities on the Rays’ TV or radio broadcasts. Felix Hernandez, who’s made a poor case for a rotation spot with a 9.64 ERA in two starts, will be on the mound for the Birds.

Links

Ruiz’s return a rousing success in 12-3 win - School of Roch
If Ruiz is worried about Franco’s impending arrival, he’s handling it like a professional, keeping his head down and focusing on his own work. And hey, if he ends up having a great spring and forcing a split playing time situation with Franco, that’s a good problem to have.

If Orioles sign Franco, does Ruiz go?; Many decisions coming on pitching staff - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Even if the O’s do sign Franco in the coming days, he might not be ready for Opening Day due to travel logistics and quarantine protocols, Rich Dubroff writes. So Rio could have a few extra days to try to dazzle the Orioles’ decision makers.

Cesar Valdez eyes Orioles Opening Day roster spot - Orioles.com
Yeah, yeah, we’ve all seen the 100-mph heaters, the knee-buckling curveballs, the devastating sliders — but Cesar Valdez’s “dead fish” changeup might be the most unique pitch in baseball.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And happy 91st birthday to catcher Hobie Landrith, who played for the Orioles from 1962-63. Also born on this day was an original Oriole, the late Clint Courtney (b. 1927, d. 1975), who came over with the franchise from St. Louis in 1954 and returned for another tour in 1960 and 1961.

On this day in 1953, MLB owners voted against Bill Veeck’s plan to move the St. Louis Browns to Baltimore, forcing the club to stay in their city for one more season before Veeck sold the franchise to a Baltimore ownership group a year later. Imagine an alternate universe where the vote had gone the other way and the first owner in Orioles history had been the notoriously stunt-happy Veeck, who once signed 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel to bat in a game and let fans manage the team one night. The early years of the O’s franchise might have played out quite differently.