Good morning, Birdland!
The first week of the Grapefruit League 2023 “season” is in the books, and the Orioles find themselves near the bottom of the standings with two wins, four losses, and one...tie?
Yes, spring games can end in a draw. Teams come into these exhibitions with a set number of pitchers to be used, and they don’t go over them. Sometimes innings end early, sometimes teams play an umpire-less half-inning, and sometimes the games end without a winner.
It’s been my personal belief for a while that ending a baseball game (apart from the postseason, of course) in a tie would be perfectly fine. Maybe not after nine innings, but perhaps 10 or 11? My main reasoning is that beyond that length of game it no longer becomes about talent or matchups. I suppose a team’s “depth” is tested, but that’s not exactly a fair argument when teams are trying to play a 162-game season, not one standalone contest. Instead we have the Manfred runner and rules against position players pitching, both of which are fine but seem more complicated than necessary.
Anyway, on Friday night the Orioles wrapped up their nine-inning game against the Pirates with the score knotted at one run apiece.
Kyle Gibson made his orange and black debut. Over two innings he allowed one run on three hits, no walks, and two strikeouts. Most notable was the way that he bounced back from a poor opening frame to go 1-2-3 in the second. The veteran will be just fine.
Dean Kremer followed and was most impressive. The righty tossed three scoreless innings, struck out three, and allowed just one hit. He now heads to meet up with Team Israel ahead of the World Baseball Classic, which starts next week.
Considering the lineup only scored once, there were not many highlights on the offensive side of the game. But we did get multi-hit games from Ryan Mountcastle and Maverick Handley. So, that’s cool!
The Birds are back in action this afternoon, hosting a Braves split squad in Sarasota. Tyler Wells heads to the bump for the first time this spring, hoping to regain a spot in the team’s rotation. First pitch is 1:05 and there will be a radio broadcast on 98 Rock and WBAL in the Baltimore area.
In Grayson Rodriguez’s shadow, Orioles’ Spenser Watkins makes his own case for rotation spot | The Baltimore Sun
Watkins is a guy that’s easy to root for. He says all the right things, seems like a great teammate, and his on-field performance last year was far better than expected. There’s a reason the Orioles hung onto him all winter despite improved talent on the roster. His peripheral numbers are still a bit worrisome thought, so my guess is he won’t be in the rotation on Opening Day. But he could fit as a swingman, especially if injuries pop up or someone like Austin Voth or Keegan Akin really struggles during the spring.
Because You Asked - Quantumania | Roch Kubatko
Perhaps the most interesting nugget here is that Kyle Stowers is being positioned as more of an everyday option this spring. I suppose that isn’t too surprising if you look at the roster and assume no other viable outfielders are walking through the door this spring. But the team seemed so apprehensive to give him opportunities last year that I wasn’t exactly sure of the plan. Although he could morph into a platoon with Austin Hays later in the summer if/when Colton Cowser is promoted.
Here are 3 early Orioles spring standouts | MLB.com
Grayson Rodriguez is the most consequential here. It is assumed that the rookie will make the rotation right out of spring, but he needs to be fully healed and healthy following last year’s injury. So far, that seems to be the case, which bodes well for his immediate future.
Roberts raves about young infield, Gibson debuts and Kremer shines | Roch Kubatko
It’s neat to get some input from Brian Roberts, who was one of the few bright spots on some pretty terrible Orioles teams prior to the Buck Showalter/Dan Duquette era. His close connection to Matt and Jackson Holliday was something I had not heard before.
Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!
- Richard Rodríguez turns 33. The reliever appeared in five games for the 2017 Orioles.
- Nerio Rodríguez is 52 today. In parts of three seasons from 1996-98, the righty pitched in 20 games with the O’s.
- Jack Fisher is 84 years old. He pitched for the Orioles from 1959 through 1962, accumulating a 3.92 ERA over 634.1 total innings.
- The late Bob Johnson (b. 1936, d. 2019) was born on this day. He served as a utility infielder for the O’s from 1963 through 1967.
This day in O’s history
March 4th has been a rather slow day in Orioles history up to this point, according to Baseball Reference. So, instead, here are some things that have occurred outside of Birdland on this date:
1791 - Vermont becomes the 14th state.
1913 - The U.S. Department of Labor is formed.
1957 - The S&P 500 stock market index is introduced.