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Orioles Game #1 Game Thread: at Red Sox, 2:10

The 162-game marathon starts with this first step

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles
Did Kyle Gibson REALLY have to be the Orioles Opening Day starting pitcher?
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The best thing about Opening Day is that all things are possible. The cruelty of reality has not yet interceded on anyone’s imagination. The Orioles could win the World Series this year. It’s not very likely, but it’s more likely than it was at this time last year and way more likely than at this time two years ago. That’s fun and not something that should be forgotten.

Even through the recent dark years, there have been some Opening Day successes. The last time the team opened against Boston was two years ago, and the O’s swept that series before going on to stink the rest of the way. In 2018, the last time they opened at home, they won in extra innings before going on to stink the rest of the way. So, you know. Hopefully today they can get in the win column and then not go on to stink the rest of the way.

The historical data is really, really against the 2023 Orioles continuing to improve on last year’s numbers. Commenter Gamecock24 flagged in today’s bird droppings that dating to 1970, teams that improved by 19 or more wins from one year to the next had an average dropoff of 7.91 wins going into the third year. For teams that won 24 or more compared to the prior year, as the 2022 Orioles did, the dropoff was more stark at 12.12 wins.

It is no wonder that many of the projections and all of the sportsbooks are setting the Orioles as a mid-70s win team. History says they’ll be lucky to do much better than that. It’s not like they made significant additions from outside the organization to buck this trend. This is really going to be the big picture story of the season. It would be nice if they can start off down the road of beating those odds by winning today.

Orioles lineup

  1. Cedric Mullins - CF
  2. Adley Rutschman - C
  3. Anthony Santander - LF
  4. Ryan Mountcastle - 1B
  5. Gunnar Henderson - DH
  6. Ramón Urías - 3B
  7. Austin Hays - RF
  8. Adam Frazier - 2B
  9. Jorge Mateo - SS

Kyle Gibson, somehow, is the Orioles Opening Day starter. It is, as was said to Cotton in an eminently quotable movie, a bold strategy. Now we’ll see how it works out for them.

Personally, I’d rather see Gunnar Henderson at third base, Urías at second, and Frazier not playing, with Kyle Stowers serving as a designated hitter instead. Nobody asked me. Frazier might provide enough defensive value to make up for his shortcomings at the plate. He might even hit decently; it did happen as recently as 2021. That wasn’t so long ago. Still, I’m expecting to be annoyed by him and it’s up to him to surprise me.

Manager Brandon Hyde told reporters before the game that he wanted the Gold Glover at third base behind Gibson. I don’t really get it, considering that reports of Henderson’s defense as well as our eye test from last year and this spring have all been glowing.

Red Sox lineup

  1. Alex Verdugo - RF
  2. Rafael Devers - 3B
  3. Justin Turner - DH
  4. Masataka Yoshida - LF
  5. Adam Duvall - CF
  6. Triston Casas - 1B
  7. Christian Arroyo - 2B
  8. Reese McGuire - C
  9. Enrique Hernandez - SS

Corey Kluber, who’s actually even older than Gibson, makes the start for Boston. This still does not look very much like a Red Sox lineup to me, but I suppose I will get used to it over the 13 games the teams play this year. Hopefully it is a lineup that starts off 0-1. With Gibson pitching, I don’t have very high hopes, but then, when it comes to the Orioles, I seldom do. The last time I had high hopes was going into the 2014 ALCS and look where that got us.