Wade LeBlanc got the start for the Baltimore Orioles on spring opening day in Sarasota. Keep in kind, these outings are short and are often tough to judge in the spring. But LeBlanc looked crisp – very crisp. That’s a good sign. LeBlanc’s line: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.
LeBlanc retired the first two Boston hitters on three pitches. Both grounded out to first base. Offensively, it appeared that the Orioles might struggle. After being shutout yesterday, the O’s loaded the bases in the last of the first. However Boston pitched out of the jam, inducing a 1-2-3 double-play.
However that bit about the Orioles loading the bases – that was a harbinger for things to come. Stevie Wilkerson‘s RBI-groundout, giving them Orioles a 1-0 lead in the second. For what it’s worth, that was the Orioles’ first run of the spring. It was also their first unofficial lead of 2020.
One inning later the O’s had something cooking once again. Dwight Smith Jr.‘s RBI-single extended the lead to 2-0. An inning later, Rio Ruiz added a sac fly-RBI, extending the lead to 3-0. Boston would attempt to chip away in the fourth with a lone RBI-ground out in the fourth.
However the O’s kept at it. Cedric Mullins smacked a two-RBI single in the fifth to extend the Birds’ lead to 5-1. Mullins you’ll remember was meant to be the new team leader last season, but ended up being sent back to the minors. He could afford to have a breakout spring this year. Once on base he immediately swiped second, so that was good to see. He has speed, but he struggled to get on base to be able to use that speed last year. Maybe this time around it’ll be different.
Rylan Bannon‘s sixth inning two-RBI double ran the score to 7-1, and Bryan Holladay added the Orioles’ first homer of the spring in the seventh to it to 8-1. They’d also add a ninth run when yet another guy scored on a pass ball in the seventh. Mason Williams‘ seventh inning RBI-double ran it to 10-1. The O’s would net an eleventh run on a pass ball, and Boston would tack four on in the ninth (including a two-run homer) to close out an 11-5 Orioles’ victory.
The O’s were able to plate runs once guys got on base today. That was an issue all of last year. And even just a smidge today when they left the bases loaded early. But for the most part they were able to get guys in today, defeating Boston and winning their Sarasota home opener.
The Orioles head to Spectrum Park in Clearwater tomorrow to take on the Philadelphia Phillies. Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Philadelphia’s Vince Velasquez. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.