The Baltimore Orioles sent John Means to the mound this afternoon against Tampa for his maiden voyage this spring. He was slated to go two innings, but came out early due to a high pitch count. However it was a typical start against the Tampa Rays. Among other things, Means surrendered a wind-aided triple, an infield hit, and a “normal” single. Means’ line: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K.
Tampa’s notorious for getting guys on base however they can. Sometimes in unorthodox manners. But they get on base. And they get runners in. Following the aforementioned wind-aided triple in the second, Robertson’s RBI-single gave them a 1-0 lead. Brousseau’s RBI-single later in the inning extended the lead to 2-0.
Means was upbeat after coming out, saying that he felt good. In fact, he said he felt “better” than giving up two runs (which came as a result of some wind-aided hits):
In spring training you’re not too worried about results. You’re really just worried about how you feel, how the ball’s coming out, how the hitters are reacting. And I honestly felt really good. I felt like the fastball was there, changeup was there, curveball was there. So yeah, I definitely felt a lot better than the two runs.Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports
Following a ground-rule double in the fourth, Cozens’ RBI-single gave Tampa a 3-0 lead. Again, this is how they do things. They just keep adding on runs. Their runs usually don’t come in buckets, but it’s one here and one there. Today however, they did have a big inning.
And that process continued. Tampa loaded the bases later in that fourth inning, and Lowe cleared them with a wind-aided bases-clearing double. He would later score when Renato Nunez (who got a rare assignment in the first) botched a throw, committing an error. But that error allowed another Tampa score, and the Birds trailed 7-0.
But there was one bright spot for the O’s this afternoon. Chris Davis smacked a solo homer the opposite way in the last of the fourth, cutting the Tampa lead to 7-1. Tampa would immediately come back in the fifth with an RBI-single by Zunino, but I digress. The fact that Chris Davis is homering this early in the spring is a really good sign for the O’s.
Davis put on about 25 lbs in the off season, and he seems to think that as a result he might faire better this year. Going oppo-boppo in his second spring game is a good start to that. He’s also drawn a few walks, which shows he’s working the count.
It’s also worth mentioning regarding Oriole bats…like all team’s they’re behind the pitching. Position players only reported last Monday, so they’re about a week behind the pitchers (and catchers). It’s always worth remembering that in some of these early spring games.
Tampa would tack on several other runs in the later innings, including a three-run homer by Perez. They ended up beating the Orioles 15-2 on the afternoon. (Rylan Bannon homered for the O’s in the last of the eighth.) One of the differences between Tampa and the Orioles is that Tampa has better pitching – top to bottom. However offensively they also take advantage of EVERYTHING that comes their way. If you slip up in some way by leaving a ball up in the zone or something along those lines, their next guy up is ready to make you pay. And again, that’s true top to bottom of their organization.
Blowout losses must have been contagious throughout the organization today, as the Orioles’ B Team seemingly suffered the same fate down at Jet Blue Park against Boston in Fort Myers. The split squad O’s fell to Boston, 12-4. As the saying goes, some days you’re the bug.
The Orioles will remain in Sarasota tomorrow as the Atlanta Braves come to town. Baltimore native Bruce Zimmerman (a non-roster invite to camp) gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Atlanta’s Sean Newcomb. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.