Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado homers as Birds win at batting practice

The good news for the Baltimore Orioles is that Manny Machado and the other regulars are starting to get into their groove. If there’s one thing however which is somewhat concerning, it’s how some of the presumed starting pitchers are getting dusted up; today it was Dylan Bundy struggling against Pittsburgh reserves. Bundy’s line: 2.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 0 K.

To be fair, not many pitchers had good outings in today’s ballgame. In reality, it was akin to batting practice. However it was the second inning that got Bundy, and he admitted as much after the game (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I got a couple guys with two strikes and gave up some hits there. Didn’t really put them away and execute the pitches. I was leaving them … all the pitches out over the plate today. Last outing, I was just missing off the plate. This outing, I was just missing too much on the plate I felt like and a little bit up. I’ve just got to keep working during spring.

Losing guys with two strikes (or two outs) was a problem all of last year. The Orioles’ coaching staff really needs to review film on all of their pitchers to see if there’s anything that’s fundamentally different once they hit two-strike counts or once two outs are recorded. The last thing this team needs is that concern to be following them this year as well.

The Birds took an early 1-0 lead on Manny Machado’s RBI-double in the last of the first. However as I said above, the second inning was Dylan Bundy’s bugaboo today. He allowed a three-RBI triple to Frazier, and an RBI-double to Marte. One other thing I’ve noticed is that regardless of who’s pitching or catching, opposing teams are stealing bases at will against Oriole batteries. It happened in that second inning to get a second runner into scoring position, and it happened a couple of other times in the game. Again, the coaching staff needs to look at these scenarios and see if teams are picking up on something in terms of being able to steal at will against the O’s. Otherwise come regular season time, singles quickly turn into doubles.

The O’s would swap runs with Pittsburgh in the second and third, with Colby Rasmus smacking his inaugural spring homer as an Oriole (in the second), and Moran doubling home an additional run for Pittsburgh in the third. Cunningham would add a sac fly-RBI an inning later, and the Birds trailed 6-2. But the fireworks were about to start.

Tim Beckham‘s RBI-double in the last of the fourth would cut that lead to 6-3. Trey Mancini  would single Beckham home, and suddenly the Orioles were in the game, trailing only by a single run. Machado would come up again later in that fourth inning with two runners on, and he ceremoniously put the O’s in the driver’s seat for good with a three-run homer.

While Pittsburgh would threaten a couple more times and net two additional runs, Beckham’s two-run home run in the fifth would propel the Orioles to a 10-8 victory. Again, one might draw some concern in this game regarding Bundy and how he looked. But any smart baseball person will tell you that this was just one of those games. On the flip side, sometimes you win games 2-1 which leave you walking away wondering long term what happened to your teams’ bats…and you just say it’s one of those games.

This was the third win for the Orioles on the spring, but perhaps more importantly it was the first home win, meaning that most of the guys in the lineup were starters. Before the game the Birds announced that they had signed former Oriole and longtime journeyman Danny Valencia to a minor league contract. Valencia is expected to be infield depth, and obviously could see time in the big leagues. But whether in Norfolk or in Baltimore, he’s in the Orioles’ organization again.

The Orioles tomorrow will head to Clearwater to take on the Philadelphia Phillies. Kevin Gausman gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Philadelphia’s Tom Eshelman. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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