The Baltimore Orioles sent John Means to the mound this afternoon in Bradenton against Pittsburgh. Means produced mixed results; while he walked the leadoff hitter in each inning. He also struck out the final two batters he faced. Means’ line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K.
I’ve said before that often times pitchers go into spring outings looking to work on specific pitches. For Means, today that appeared to be breaking pitches. He threw a heavy amount of them (curves and sliders), causing him to get into some deep counts (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports:
Yeah, I liked my curveball. I like the break. I thought I was stealing some strikes with it. Threw some better two-strike ones. Break is there, it’s just execution right now. But I feel pretty positive with it.
Pittsburgh jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a sac fly-RBI by Evans. But the Birds came right back and tied it at one on an RBI-single by Freddy Galvis in the second inning. This only to have Evans seize the lead back for Pittsburgh again an inning later with an RBI-single. A bloop RBI-single.
For awhile there (in terms of scoring) it was the Evans and Galvis show. Because Freddy Galvis’ fourth inning RBI-double tied the score at four. The O’s also got RBI-doubles in the fourth from Pedro Severino, and Cedric Mullins, to take a 4-3 lead.
However fundamentals in baseball played a huge role in the final score of the game. Pitcher Jay Flaa walked a batter in the last of the fifth. The runner would advance on an error, and then score on a passed ball, tying the game at four. Those are the sorts of things you have to keep tabs on. Teams get fat and happy on your mistakes.
Gonzalez’s two-RBI double in the sixth would give Pittsburgh a 6-4 lead. The teams agreed before the game to end it after the eighth inning, so the eighth was going to be the final inning one way or the other. And the Birds were able to get to within one in that eighth inning, on Rio Ruiz‘s RBI-double with nobody down.
That should have put the Birds in good shape. The tying run should have been at second base with nobody out. However Ruiz tried to extend it into a triple, and was thrown out at third base. That of course breaks a cardinal rule in that you aren’t supposed to make the first or last out of the inning at third.
That’s a fundamental error on Ruiz’s part as well. Granted you want to be aggressive, and granted if you’re going to make that mistake you’d like it to be in a spring training game. However very soon the games are going to count. And that’s going to be a huge lapse in judgement if it occurs in a regular season game. Fundamentals can win or lose games.
The O’s return home to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota tomorrow to take on the Tampa Rays. Cesar Valdez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Trevor Richards. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.