Baltimore Orioles: Manufactured runs make a difference

The Baltimore Orioles closed the unofficial first half of their spring slate of games this afternoon against Philadelphia at Ed Smith Stadium. The Birds sent Josh Rogers to the mound for the start, and with some limited success at that. Rogers’ line: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Rogers said after his outing that he felt good, and that he felt he made some strides in this outing. I suspect that Rogers could be earmarked for the Norfolk Tides’ rotation, however the fact that he’s being given starts in spring games tells you that he is in fact competing for a roster spot for the Birds as well. Time will tell who breaks camp with the big league club, however at the end of the day this first half of the Grapefruit League schedule has involved some intense competition by some very young pitchers. That bodes well for the future.

The Orioles took an early 1-0 lead on an RBI-single by DJ Stewart. That scored Jonathan Villar, on what in essence was a manufactured run. Following a single Villar went to second on a wild pitch, to third on a groundout, and then scored on a subsequent single.

Philadelphia would tie the game on a solo homer in the second by Gosselin. However the O’s also manufactured another run in the last of the third inning, and again it involved Jonathan Villar. He got aboard once again with a single, and proceeded to steal second base. He took third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch. As I’ve said many times, traffic on the base paths can lead to runs being scored.

However Philadelphia would plate four runs in the fourth which opened up a 5-2 lead for them. The Orioles brought in Paul Fry, who pitched two perfect innings and struck out one. Fry was not only perfect in terms of not allowing a base runner, but he served as a stabilizing factor in the game, allowing the Birds to get back into it.

The O’s got to within 5-4 in the last of the sixth on Joey Rickard‘s two-RBI double. They were able to tie the game back up at five later in the inning on Diaz’s sac fly-RBI. However the top of the eight brought the lead back to Philadelphia, who was also able to break the game open. They took a 6-5 lead on Guzman’s RBI-double, and that lead was extended to 8-5 on a two-run homer by Plouffe.

While the O’s fell to Philadelphia on this day, don’t shoo off the effect of those two runs manufactured by Jonathan Villar. That’s one aspect that’s been missing from the O’s for some time; they were consistently unable to get runs home by any manner other than homers. That made them predictable, and easy to which to pitch.

The fact that they’re doing this in spring training is a good sign. These games may not count, but you ultimately play like you practice. Does this mean that the O’s will contend this season? No. But perhaps a run here and there in spots where they otherwise wouldn’t have scored runs previously will give them an additional win here or there. Every little bit helps.

Tomorrow is the Orioles’ lone off day of the Grapefruit League season. In fact, the Ed Smith Stadium complex will be closed to players. The idea is for them to be anywhere but the facility. The regular season of course has off days built in all over the place – but consider this one akin to perhaps the all-star break in comparison with the regular season!

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