Baltimore Orioles: Not the Wright stuff

The Baltimore Orioles didn’t exactly get off to the start they wanted this afternoon in Grapefruit League play. Mike Wright got the starting assignment, despite knowing that he would only work two innings. Technically he was tagged with the loss, but we’re splitting hairs in looking at that. Wright’s line: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

The first inning set the tone for the game, with Tampa fouling off pitch after pitch. Tampa seemed to play this game with the urgency of a pennant race, keeping their at-bats alive as the game went on. And eventually that paid off. Having said that, Wright rebounded in the second inning, and ended up looking fairly good – even debuting some new repetoir (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I’m featuring a cutter now and (Johnson) fouled off two of them up and in. I need to be a little more crisp and I think we can roll from there.

Tampa took a 1-0 lead in the first on a sac fly-RBI by Adames. This came on the heels of a base hit and a walk. Even in split squad form, Tampa’s hitters don’t give up at-bats. For what it’s worth, Wright atoned for his long first inning by making quick victims of Tampa in the second.

Tampa would add a second run in the third as Wendle grounded into a double-play which netted an additional run. The Orioles brought Pedro Araujo in to pitch the fifth, and that perhaps was the highlight of the game for the O’s. Araujo was sharp as could be, retiring Tampa in order with a groundout and two strikeouts.

Tampa would keep the pressure on in the seventh as the first two hitters reached base (one on a HBP). Ciuffo then broke the game wide open with a two-RBI single off of reliever Jeff Ferrell. Tampa would add an additional two runs in the seventh on a Padlo homer (off of Donny Hart).

However the silver lining here is that the Birds battled in the last of the ninth. With two on and nobody out, in a New York minute the Tampa lead was cut in half. Chance Sisco smacked the Orioles’ first homer of the spring, this one of the three-run variety. However while the Birds got a few other players on base, they were unable to get any closer than that. The O’s fell 6-3 to drop to 0-1 on the spring.

That late rally was music to Orioles’ fans ears, however I suspect they would have preferred that the runs came from the regulars who were in earlier in the game. As a reminder, hitters are still about a week behind pitchers (and catchers). Anyone who watched this game saw an extension of the end of last season – the Orioles struggling to get guys on base, and not being able to get them home when they do get someone on. But again, pitchers are ahead right now.

They also ran into a young group of Tampa Rays who weren’t overly concerned about scoring runs or getting on base. They focused on quality at-bats, and in turn they found themselves on base. While Tampa’s reserves defeated the majority of the Orioles’ starters, you have to take these results with a grain of salt. Especially this early in the spring.

Jonathan Schoop was a late scratch, as he had developed Bursitis in his elbow. It’s unclear how much time he’ll miss, but this is why you have depth. Again, I think the highlight of the day was that fifth inning. Araujo looked very sharp, and there’s no doubt he caught the eye of the coaching staff.

The Orioles will face a split squad day tomorrow. The “B-team” travel to Clearwater to take on Philadelphia at 1 PM, with Dylan Bundy getting the start. He’ll be opposed by Philadelphia’s Zach Elfin. Tomorrow night most of the regulars will take on Minnesota at Ed Smith Stadium, with Nestor Cortes Jr. getting the start for the Birds. He’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Adalberto Mejia. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

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