Baltimore Orioles: Spencer Watkins shines in debut

The Baltimore Orioles called up Spencer Watkins from the minors to start tonight’s game against Toronto. It was his big league debut – and it came against a team that’s dominated the Birds to date. But Watkins was stellar in his debut, sticking around long enough to qualify for the win. Watkins’ line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

The lone run Watkins surrendered was on a sac fly-RBI by Guerrero in the first inning. For the rest of his outing, he mowed Toronto hitters down. And luckily for Watkins, his new big league teammates picked tonight to have their bats come alive.

Pedro Severino got the party started in the fourth inning with a two-run homer. And as much as Severino has struggled at times behind the plate this year, that was a welcome sight for Orioles’ fans. Cedric Mullins would also stay hot, smacking a two-run shot of his own in the last of the fifth. The O’s held a 4-1 lead.

Later in that fifth inning Trey Mancini would score on a wild pitch. Down the road a little further in the inning, Anthony Santander’s three-run homer opened the game wide open. The Birds led, 7-1.

Toronto would smack two additional solo homers (Grichuk and Guerrero), and a two-run shot by Gurriel in the ninth. But it made no difference in the final. This game was all Orioles for most of the way. And for once, it began and ended with starting pitching again.

Watkins did really well for himself. That goes without saying. My hope and my belief is that he earned at least a second start. But now the real challenge comes – both for him, his catcher(s), and his coaches. Now there’s a book on him.

In short, now there’s film on him out there at the big league level. That’s why pitchers can look so good in their debuts, only to flop after a few starts. Opponents are going to adapt to what they see on film. It’s up to Watkins to adapt also, keeping his game fresh.

The series continues tomorrow at Camden Yards. Matt Harvey gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Hyun Jin Ryu. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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