Baltimore Orioles stumble but Grayson Rodriguez shines

The Baltimore Orioles took another one on the chin this afternoon, this time in Lakeland against Detroit. However that shouldn’t make anyone forget Grayson Rodriguez’s starting today. Rodriguez’s line: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

Rodriguez is MLB’s #2 rated pitching prospect. So this game was certainly of interest to a lot of people. It also featured Adley Rutschman behind the plate for the O’s, in perhaps a battery preview of the coming years. and Rutschman got the scoring started in the game with a solo homer in the first inning. Kyle Stowers would add an RBI-single in the fourth, and the Birds led, 2-0.

However the game changed quickly for the O’s. Tyler Nevin smacked a three-run homer for Detroit in the last of the fifth that gave them a 3-2 lead. Lipcius would follow with a solo shot, taking Detroit back-to-back.

Detroit would go on to bat around twice in the game. They put up five runs in the fifth, and another five in the seventh. The O’s would get an RBI-double fron Ryan O’Hearn in the last of the sixth, but that wasn’t nearly enough.

However Rodriguez was the story of the day. He performed like one would expect one of the top prospects in baseball to perform. Granted you do have to throw in that it was only over two innings. But he had a certain zip and finish on his pitches. In short, he looked “crisp.”

Rodriguez said after his outing that he felt good, and that he felt that he had made progress over the offseason:

We worked on some things this offseason and so far into spring training, so right now my stuff’s better than it was last year.

Courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

It shouldn’t go unnoticed that Rutschman caught today, and homered. This is the future of Orioles baseball on display in the Florida Grapefruit League as we speak. And the rest of the league would do well to take note. Despite the final score, which as we know is irrelevant in these spring games.

The Orioles will return home to Sarasota tomorrow evening as the Pittsburgh Pirates come to Ed Smith Stadium. Kyle Gibson gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Vince Velasquez. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles almost no-hit against Toronto

The Baltimore Orioles sent Cole Irving to the mound this afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium against Toronto. Irving, and just about every other pitcher who appeared in the game (for both teams), was solid. Irving’s line: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

This was your classic pitcher’s duel, although the Birds didn’t even scratch a hit on the board until the ninth inning. Toronto led 1-0 from the first inning on on an RBI-double in the fourth by Brantley. It’s worth mentioning that this came as a result of Austin Voth (who was tagged with the loss) hitting a batsman. That’s something of which the Orioles should be wary moving forward as we look towards the regular season. Hit batsmen give the opponent free base runners, who could eventually come around to score.

In the case of this game, the runner did just that. It’s not such a big deal because it’s a spring game, but it’s still something. Especially in the American League East, where teams have so much power. That base runner at first base scored on a double.

Toronto extended their lead to 2-0 in the eighth on Clark’s solo homer. As I said, the O’s didn’t get their first hit of the ballgame until the ninth inning, when Lewin Diaz singled to right field. Similarly, Diaz would come around to score, this on Heston Kjerstad’s RBI-single. Guys on base can always equate to runs. But end of the day, Toronto headed back to Dunedin leaving the O’s with a 2-1 defeat.

Obviously getting no-hit into the ninth inning isn’t ideal, whether it’s spring training or any other time. However You can’t totally judge the season based on this one outing. Lineups aren’t what they will be, and guys are trying to get in shape. So no worries on that – they play again tomorrow.

The Orioles head to Joker Marchant Stadium tomorrow afternoon in Lakeland to take on Detroit. Grayson Rodriguez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Matthew Boyd. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Birds bat around in the fifth, win second spring game

The Baltimore Orioles traveled to Lakeland, Fl this afternoon to take on Detroit in Florida Grapefruit League game. Dean Kremer got the start, his maiden outing of 2023. Kremer’s line: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K.

Kremer gave up a solo homer in the first inning by Maton. Other than that, he was fairly solid. Kremer will be leaving camp in a few days to play for Team Israel in the WBC. He’s expected to make one more outing before departing.

But the Orioles, similar to yesterday’s game, got their runs in a spurt this afternoon. Kremer was long gone by the time they got on the board. But once they did, they didn’t look back.

Lewin Diaz got them on the board in the top of the fifth with an RBI-double. Later in the inning Terrin Vavra gave them the lead with a two-RBI double. Add on an RBI-single by Kyle Stowers and a walk by Jordan Westburg (with the bases loaded, and the O’s led 5-1.

But it didn’t end there. Franchy Cordero added a fielder’s choice-RBI. And Diaz came around again and smacked a three-run homer. That gave the Orioles a 9-1 lead. It also effectively ended the ballgame. If you care about win ls and losses at this point, that is.

Detroit would add four more runs, and Josh Lester would put the Birds ahead 10-5 with an RBI-single in the eighth. You can file this game under the “who didn’t look good” category, but for what it’s worth Terrin Vavra had another good game, going 2-for-3. However batting around will often give you an edge in a game.

The Birds would walk in a run in the last of the ninth. Detroit also had the tying run at the plate, however Brandon Hyde turned to minor leaguer Nolan Hoffman with two outs. Hoffman recorded the final out, and the O’s went back to Sarasota with a 10-6 win. For the record since he had the tying run at the plate in the ninth, Hoffman recorded a rare spring training save. For those who care about suck things.

The Orioles return home to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota tomorrow to take on the Tampa Rays. Bruce Zimmerman gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Elvin Rodriguez. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Heston Kjerstad smacks two homers in Birds’ spring debut

It was 84 degrees at first pitch this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles’ first spring game at Ed Smith Stadium. This as opposed to some wintry weather pushing through at home. The Birds sent Drew Rom to the mound, and while he gave up an early run, he was fairly effective. Rom’s line: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K.

It’s tough to gauge a guy in his first spring start. Especially when he only pitched two innings, which was the plan for Rom all along today. Rom’s sole run surrendered came in the first inning on a sac fly-RBI. This on the heels of a triple. Minnesota took a 3-0 lead in the fourth on Contreras’ two-run shot.

The Orioles got on the board in the last of the fourth when Joey Ortiz smacked an RBI-triple. One inning later, they took a 4-3 lead on a three-run homer by Curtis Terry. Later in the inning Heston Kjerstad came up with the bases clear. And he also delivered, smacking a solo homer.

Minnesota would get one back on an RBI-groundout in the sixth. But that seemed to open up the orange and black floodgates. Terrin Vavra’s two-run homer extended the Birds’ lead to 7-4, before Rosario smacked a solo homer for Minnesota in the top of the seventh. This would bring Kjerstad back to the plate in the last of the seventh with the Birds leading 7-5…

…and Kjerstad once again delivered. This time it was a solo homer, giving the O’s an 8-5 lead. Cesar Prieto’s two-RBI single later in the inning would wrap up the scoring. It would also wrap up the Orioles’ 10-5 victory.

Heston Kjerstad was obviously the star of the show today. Terrin Vavra also had a great day, going 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBI. Remember folks, these spring games are meant to get guys in the spring of playing again, and they help for them to get their timing back. So on those notes, Vavra and Kjerstad’s performances were noteworthy. Last year’s first round pick, Jackson Holiday, also had a double in the seventh inning.

Incidentally, as I write a game recap for a 10-5 Orioles’ win, I was wrong earlier this week With regard to today’s game, that is. I mentioned how pitchers and catchers were ahead of position players at the plate, meaning that we might see some pitcher’s duels early on. That was obviously not the case this afternoon. The Birds busted out the bats today!

The Orioles head to Lakeland, Florida tomorrow to take on Detroit at Joker Marchant Stadium. Dean Kremer gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Eduardo Rodriguez. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles open Grapefruit League play

Here it is folks – the moment for which Baltimore Orioles fans have waited for some time! Well, maybe not; but needless to say, it’s something. This afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota we’re going to play the biggest baseball game in the history of western civilization – well, for this year anyways! It’s the Orioles against the Minnesota Twins in the opener of the Florida Grapefruit League.

I wrote on Thursday that Drew Rom will get the start this afternoon. And again folks, that means relatively little more than the face value of the statement. Again as I’ve said, managers have a rotation of pitchers for each spring game. It’s just Rom’s turn to start things off.

I would expect the Orioles “starters” to play a few innings. Maybe two or three at-bats. I say this every year, but it’s worth nothing again that these games are played partially to help players get their timing back at the plate. Pitchers and catchers are about a week ahead of position players. So even the most seasoned veteran hitter may struggle at the plate early in the spring due to his timing being off. So if you see a few goose eggs on stat lines today, don’t fret!

Once guys get into the grind of playing however, all of that evens out. And the first week of spring games gives the Orioles a decent turn through the gulf coast. They’ll see Tampa, Toronto, and Pittsburgh and Detroit twice (including tomorrow in Lakeland).

But it all starts this afternoon against the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium. The aforementioned Drew Rom gets the start for the homestanding Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Louie Varland. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: CD-ROM in Grapefruit League opener

The Baltimore Orioles announced a starter today for Saturday’s Florida Grapefruit League “Opening Day.” That starter is (drumroll please)…Drew Rom. Not exactly the name you expected to see? Yeah, most people would say the same thing.

Obviously you see I’m already up to my old tricks early on this year! Yes folks, the title’s a play on words. And one that you’re going to have to have been born in the 20th century to understand at that. But nevertheless, Drew Rom to the mound it is.

Rom, a southpaw, appeared in 26 ballgames last year between double-A Bowie and triple-A Norfolk. He posted a 4.43 ERA over 120 innings. Manager Brandon Hyde was quick to say that this WAS NOT necessarily a preview of things to come in terms of the starting rotation. He quipped that it’s just sort of how things lined up.

For his part in all this, Rom appeared to be thrilled with the decision (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

Especially this being my first year in camp. I think that’s kind of a big, almost confidence boost for me, especially coming into my first season when I have the potential to be in the big leagues and having that confidence from the front office. Definitely helps that they trust me to go in and set the tone for the first game.

Rom was drafted in 2018 out of high school in Kentucky. So he’s been in the organization for some time, and has been waiting for his chance at the big leagues. But for now, he’ll settle for a Spring Training Opening Day start on Saturday. (Or any spring game at all for that matter.)

I would also remind fans as we get going with these spring games that the pitching rotation is set in advance. Guys come to the ballpark everyday knowing when, if, and for how long they’ll be appearing in that day’s game. Sometimes they’re even aware of it well before game day. So Rom may only be in the game on Saturday for one or two innings. And Brandon Hyde will have a pre-set list of pitchers who will be scheduled to come in for limited appearances after that.

However it all starts with Drew Rom. For all we know this could be the highlight of his career – starting in a big league spring training game. The hope is that he throws well and has a good camp – and that we see him in Baltimore at some point this year. But it’s tough to say. The only thing we can say for sure is that he’s starting on Saturday afternoon for the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium against the Minnesota Twins.

Baltimore Orioles: A President’s Day tradition

The Baltimore Orioles and every other team are currently in Spring Training. Games start next weekend. But the rest of the country takes today off in honor of President’s Day.

I write this column every year. One of my passions in life is civics. And the American Presidency is an institution that has a relationship with Major League Baseball unlike any other sport.

President William Howard Taft unknowingly began an important tradition in 1910; he went to Griffith Stadium in Washington DC and threw out the first pitch at the Washington Senators’ game on Opening Day. It wasn’t something that was covered in great fanfare, but it’s noteworthy from a historical perspective. Since then Presidents have been an indelible part of the landscape of the game of baseball. And of sports.

President Taft and nearly every one of his predecessors threw out first pitches. Usually in DC. Also it happened from time to time in the World Series. And even in the All-Star Game. At times, the Vice-President would stand in for the President on Opening Day – this actually happened for the first time in 1912, when Vice-President James Sherman filled in for President Taft. Other “Veep’s” to do the honors over the years were Nixon, Humphrey, Agnew, Bush, Quayle, Gore, Cheney, and Biden.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of course was a quadriplegic – which for the most part was unbeknownst to the general public. (On a side note, that’s most definitely NOT something that could be concealed today.) Luckily for FDR however, back then the President threw the first pitch from the stands. In 1940 at Griffith Stadium his pitch hit a Washington Post camera. Five years later President Harry Truman did the honors at the World Series (in DC), becoming the first President to throw the first pitch as a southpaw.

In 1958 President Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first to throw out a first pitch in Baltimore. He did so at the All-Star game, which that year was held at Memorial Stadium. President Jimmy Carter returned the Presidency to Memorial Stadium in 1979 for the World Series. Presidents Reagan, Bush (41), and Clinton would also visit Baltimore to do these honors, as did Vice-President Dan Quayle. President Lyndon B. Johnson also set a still-standing Presidential record on 1964 in Washington DC. He ate the most hot dogs (4) of any President ever on Opening Day.

Numerous former Presidents have also thrown out first pitches. However President Barrack Obama was the last sitting President to appear in person – this in 2010, at Nationals Park. In commemoration of 100 years since President Taft began the tradition.

And with that said, yes this is an Orioles column. But I would submit that President Biden might consider rekindling the tradition this April at Nationals Park. America’s pastime is baseball. That will always be the case. And again, baseball has a unique relationship with the White House. And I think that the President of the United States should throw out the first ball on Opening Day every year in Washington DC.

Baltimore Orioles: Pitchers & Catchers report today

It begins today for the Baltimore Orioles. For 2023, that is. Pitchers & Catchers are to report to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota no later than today, marking the beginning of Spring Training.

It’ll be interesting to see how camp unforlds for the Birds. What will be the big storyline(s)? How does the starting rotation shake down? Which young players will step up? These and others are all stories that we’ll discuss moving forward.

However for today, the big storyline is that pitchers and catchers are reporting to camp. That’s music to the ears of so many Orioles fans, and baseball fans across the board. It begins today – no turning back!

Baltimore Orioles trade for two pitchers

The Baltimore Orioles finalized a trade this afternoon. The Birds are sending infield prospect Darell Hernaiz to the Oakland Athletics. In return, they’re getting LHP Cole Irvin, and RHP Kyle Virbitsky.

End of the day, these are low-level moves by the Orioles. Hernaiz was the 16th ranked prospect in the Orioles’ farm system. Irvin led the AL in loses with 15 last year, but also started 30 games and pitched to a 3.98 ERA. He pitched to a career-high 128 strikeouts. Virbitsky was drafted in the 17th round in 2021, and is yet to make his big league debut.

It’s unclear how any of this fits into the Orioles’ plans for 2023. However it always helps to have additional pitching in the farm system. More as we hear it.

Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini to the North Side

Former Baltimore Orioles’ star, Trey Mancini, is headed to the North Side of Chicago. Wrigleyville, to be exact.’s Mark Feinsand is reporting that Mancini signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Cubs, pending a physical.

The Cubs haven’t yet confirmed the deal, however Feinsand is also reporting that it includes an opt-out after 2023. If Mancini wasn’t coming back to Birdland (which was all but guaranteed), this is absolutely a best-case scenario for Orioles fans. Everyone loves the Cubs! It allows O’s fans to pull for Mancini, while for the most part not rooting against the Birds’ interests. The O’s do visit Wrigley Field over the weekend of June 16-18th.

The O’s have also reached deals with all but one arbitration-eligible player. Pitcher’s and catcher’s are due to report to Sarasota on February 15th. So there’s exactly one month left in the current “phase” of the offseason. However workouts and eventually games beginning won’t stop the O’s from signing a free agent in which they’re interested. They’ve always been a force in free agency – late in the hot stove period.