Orioles 11, Pirates 7

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf lasted only 4 2/3 innings on Thursday night… meaning that he still has not been able to finish five innings in a spring outing. In comparison, Kevin Correia and Paul Maholm have already done so twice.

Ohlendorf has already been named No. 3 in the Pirates’ five-man rotation, so this isn’t a case where he is pitching for a spot on the roster. Rather, Ohlendorf is pitching to get himself ready for the season — and given his recent results, there still appears work to be done.

Ohlendorf gave up six runs (five earned) on nine hits and two walks while on the mound against Baltimore. Two of his innings were strong; the other three, not so much. This comes, too, after the righty allowed 10 earned runs in his last two outings (five innings) combined.

His troubles on Thursday included giving up three home runs — one to Mark Reynolds, another to Luke Scott and the other to Felix Pie.

“It is still not as good as I would like it to be, but I still thought it was better than last time,” Ohlendorf said afterward. “I’ve been up in the zone too much. I feel like I was better today, but still not as good as I need to be. The fourth inning I was really happy with. The third inning, I thought, went pretty well. But I still need to pitch better.”

There has been a lack of efficiency, in particular, for Ohlendorf this spring. That’s the main reason why he has not been able to log as many innings as other starters in camp. Is it a concern that Ohlendorf has not yet finished five innings? He said no. Hurdle had this to say, when asked if there is concern about these struggles bleeding into the regular season:

“We’re going to find out when the regular season comes,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “All of us know the season is coming. Every starter knows his role. He’s got to give us length. It’s not so much the quantity as the quality that has to improve in his case. He’s aware of that. Once the bell rings, we’ll see where we go from there. He’s got work in front of him.”

Ohlendorf will have one more tune up before he takes the mound on Sunday, April 3, in Chicago. In addition to continuing to build up his arm (which physically is fine, Ohlendorf said), he needs to focus on not overthrowing. He’s struggled with this — and handling the need to be quicker to the plate while holding on runners — throughout spring.

“The first two innings and the fifth inning, I just think he gets in the routine where he starts overpowering the ball,” Hurdle said. “He throws through his slider. His fastball gets up and gets flat. We’ve got work to do. There is no doubt about that. What’s he’s got to find a way to do is when he gets amped up, he’s got to back away and get back to pitching. It’s inconsistent.”

***

Garrett Olson did not help his argument for deserving a spot in the Pirates’ bullpen with his showing on Thursday. After pitching a scoreless inning in his Pirates debut on Monday, Olson labored through one inning against Baltimore.

The Orioles scored three times off Olson, who gave up three hits, two walks and threw a wild pitch.

The Pirates have been adamant with their promise to take their seven best relievers north and not to meet any sort of righty-lefty quota. If that is truly the case, you have to wonder if Olson would deserve to be in. He has certainly not outpitched Mike Crotta (and others) at this point.

If Joe Beimel is not ready to start the season with the big league club it will be really interesting to see if the Pirates would be willing to go without a left-hander in the ‘pen.

***

Everything else of interest tonight can be found on the main site. That includes a full story on the Pirates’ rotation/Opening Day starter decision, which can be found here. By the end of the night there will also be items on Neil Walker’s four-hit game, Lyle Overbay’s strong spring start at the plate, Charlie Morton’s thoughts on being in the rotation and a look at the Pirates’ bullpen puzzle as it is now.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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