Baltimore Orioles: Heston Kjerstad, Kyle Gibson, leaving their marks in Sarasota

There’s a decent chance that Kyle Gibson will be the Baltimore Orioles’ opening day starter on March 30th in Boston. And fans got somewhat of an extended look at him this afternoon against Pittsburgh at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. And they had to have been impressed. In leaving Gibson in for five innings, it appears that we’re reaching the point in the spring where guys are being stretched out a bit so as to mimic a real game. Gibson’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K.

The seven strikeouts is noteworthy. Especially given that today’s opponent featured several regulars in the lineup. Or presumed regulars, that is. Point being that Gibson, a bona fide big leaguer, was facing other big league hitters. And he ruled the day.

With a runner on base in the last of the first, Adley Rutschman hit the first pitch he saw out of the ballpark, giving the Birds a 2-0 lead. An inning later Nomar Mazara would smack an RBI-single, which was followed by a two-run homer by Heston Kjerstad. This opened up a 5-0 lead for the Orioles early on.

And they never looked back. Mazara would smack a two-RBI double in the last of the fifth, and McKenna an RBI-single. When the smoke cleared, the Oriole bullpen took care of the rest, propelling the Birds to an 8-0 victory.

Gibson was oustanding in his five innings of work. And he’s had a very strong spring in general. And Heston Kjerstand has been a dazzling star for fans thus far this spring. He’s currently hitting .389, with four homers and eight RBI. The O’s now head into the final week of spring training, or the final full week, that is. They’ll break camp one week from tomorrow, and be in Boston for Opening Day that corresponding Thursday.

The O’s head to Clearwater tomorrow to take on the Philadelphia Phillies at BayCare Ballpark. Kyle Bradish gets the start for the O’s, and Philadelphia is yet to name a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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