Baltimore Orioles defeat Tampa by playing AL East baseball

The Baltimore Orioles once again have seen positive results against the Tampa Rays in the Florida Grapefruit league. Mike Wright got the start for the Orioles this afternoon, and save for a home run was dominant. Wright’s line: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

In three innings of work, Wright retired eight of his final nine hitters. The lone run that crossed came on Adamses’ solo homer in the last of the third. And Wright admitted after his outing that on that pitch he missed his spot (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

It was a bad fastball, inner half. I just left it out over the plate.

However the O’s quickly came back. They took tied the game at one on Danny Valencia‘s RBI-double in the fourth, which was followed by Austin Hays RBI-single. Tampa would tie the game with an RBI-single in the bottom of that fourth inning, and it looked like we had a ballgame. Then the big inning happened.

From a pitching standpoint they say one should aim to stay out of the big inning. The implication of course is that if you’re at bat you play for the big inning. And that’s part of the essence of AL East baseball. If you play small ball and shoot for one run, that could be all you get.

However at first, the O’s looked like they might be playing some small ball. Beckham’s sac fly-RBI gave them the lead back at 3-2. Danny Valencia then smacked another double with runners in scoring position; this one scored two runs, giving the O’s a 5-2 lead. Anthony Santander would then smack a two-RBI single, which resulted in a 7-2 lead for the O’s. And a 7-2 win.

That’s how games are played and won in the AL East. Anytime people talk about the benefits of small ball and so forth, teams like the Orioles just smile and nod. The big inning, and thus big ball is how you win games in the American League East. It might not as effective against some teams, but if you want to maximize your wins in the regular season you have to play and win within your division.

The Orioles return to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota tomorrow to take on the Toronto Blue Jays for the first time this spring. Nestor Cortes Jr. gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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