It was an otherwise forgetful final home game in Sarasota for the Baltimore Orioles this evening. When you lose 12-4 it tends to be a game you’d rather forget. However the exception to that is Caleb Joseph, who’s going to be the Orioles’ Opening Day catcher on Thursday (against these same Minnesota Twins). Joseph went two-for-four with two doubles and an RBI.
Chris Tillman had what one might term a so-so start. Tillman’s line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 K. Those numbers don’t look too good, however in reality Tillman struggled in one inning. The rest of the time he was actually fairly effective. Obviously you’d rather not have that one bad inning. However the fact that Tillman battled back and pitched into the sixth is a positive sign.
With Minnesota already leading 1-0, they put a barrage of runs on the board in the second. That’s what can happen when you load the bases. And the lesson in this game is that while one inning a game doesn’t make, it can make things a lot tougher on a team. Following multiple RBI-singles and doubles, the Birds trailed 6-0 by the time the smoke cleared.
However Joseph’s RBI-double in the last of the second got the Orioles on the scoreboard. Manny Machado would add an RBI-single before the inning ended, cutting the lead to 6-2. Danny Valencia added an RBI-single in the fifth, and Machado scored one inning later on a throwing error. For a short period of time, it looked like the Birds were trying to make a game of it as they closed to 6-4.
However Minnesota would smack four more home runs, totaling six additional runs, in the later innings. And again, the lesson there is that insurance runs are “a thing.” The O’s had started to threaten in the middle innings, and Minnesota closed the door. Mind you folks, this game is in no way indicative of what’s to come in the regular season. This game may have been a late spring game with the players ready to head north, but it was still a spring training game.
However the Orioles have to find ways to put teams away this year, similar to how Minnesota did with them tonight. When they get a lead, they need to ensure that not only does their bullpen not surrender it, but that their offense perhaps gets an additional run or two. If they had done that in a few games last year, they would have gone from a team with a losing record to one who contested for a playoff spot.
And here we are folks, at the penultimate game of the spring. It seems like just yesterday the Orioles were preparing for that first game at Ed Smith Stadium against Tampa. The team’s grown a lot since then, and that’s a good thing. But remember that while in fact this is the end – of spring, it’s also just the beginning. The beginning of the really good stuff.
The Orioles will close their Grapefruit League schedule tomorrow afternoon by heading to Clearwater to take on the Philadelphia Phillies. Nestor Cortes gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Philadelphia’s Nick Pivetta. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.