Orioles 11, Pirates 8
Ryan Doumit has been scratched from the Pirates’ travel roster for Friday after feeling soreness in his right oblique during batting practice on Thursday. He will receive treatment on Friday, and more should be known about his status after that. The Pirates have listed his status as day-to-day, but oblique injuries often linger. If Doumit misses substantial time, that would hurt the Pirates’ ability to trade him and alter the makeup of the bench.
For all that went wrong on the mound for the Pirates on Thursday, Paul Maholm was immune. It was a strong four-inning outing for the left-hander, who I have to believe is the favorite to be the team’s Opening Day starter.
Other than giving up a solo homer to Vladimir Guerrero on a slider that was supposed to be in the dirt and wasn’t, Maholm had a pretty easy night. He was efficient to the point where he had to go throw extra pitches in the bullpen after he exited to get his pitch count up.
“I was aggressive, able to get some groundballs,” Maholm said. “The last two [I] have been [throwing] the kitchen sink and trying to get outs. Just kind of getting into the rhythm of mixing sequences and reading hitters’ swings.”
Maholm allowed just three other hits — all singles — in the outing. He had a lot of success, too, going inside to hitters — and remember, that is something that Maholm is really focusing on this spring. Especially encouraging is that when Maholm is missing on those inside pitches, he’s not missing over the plate. That was an issue for the lefty last year.
“Paul was excellent,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Paul threw very, very well tonight. Command, the cutter, changeup, sinker, he looked good today. Very crisp.”
The Pirates’ aggressive baserunning was on display early in Thursday’s game, and it played a large role in the 4-1 lead the team briefly enjoyed.
Jose Tabata’s gutsy decision (I think it’s still for debate whether it was necessarily a wise one) to try to move from first to third on a groundball to the third baseman paid off in the first. He caught Baltimore off guard, and came all the way around to score when Brandon Snyder’s throw went past the bag at third.
In the second, Ronny Cedeno pushed it to go from first to third on a single, and that led to an errant throw that allowed Gorkys Hernandez move up to second. Both were in position to then score on Jason Jaramillo’s single.
The Pirates are surely going to run into some outs being so aggressive. But Thursday’s early innings also showed the chaos that agressiveness can create.
“We looked good there for a spurt,” Hurdle said. “We ran the bases well. We put the barrel on the ball. We had better at-bats. That’s the kind of game we have to play. Speed, surprise and variety. Use the skills that we have.”
For those of you who might have been watching the game on TV, you saw an interesting occurrence in the bottom of the seventh. Baltimore’s Matt Angle went to steal second and Jaramillo made an attempt to throw him out. Only problem was, no one was covering second. Jaramillo’s throw went straight to the center fielder, allowing one run to score and Angle to move to third.
So what exactly went wrong?
“That’s [Neil] Walker’s ball,” Hurdle explained afterward. “JJ started the play in a bad way. He’s got to peek, stop the runner at third base. The runner is coming like a freight train. There was no look to third, then the throw to second, sloppy.”
Gotta love Spring Training baseball. The O’s and Bucs combined for 19 runs, 27 hits and six errors on Thursday. Not the prettiest of March games, and figures that it would be one of the four TV games.
On the positive side, the Pirates did only strike out seven times in the game. This, after the club fanned 16 times on Wednesday. And give the offense credit for battling to make the game close with a four-run eighth. Most of those who hit in that frame are fighting to make an impression, which meant they had no interest in simply going through the motions and getting to a late dinner.
On the main site tonight, you’ll find a mid-Spring Training report, of sorts. It’s a look at what we’ve learned so far and what questions remain. There are also notes about Joel Hanrahan’s rough night, Doumit’s injury, Cedeno’s work to cut down on his strikeouts and a thorough injury report.
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB