Tuesday, February 24, 2009

O's-Italians, They Think They'll Win The WBC?

The "Orioles" played their first baseball game of the year today, sending a team of back-ups and minor-leaguers against the Italian World Baseball Classic team (which also had some O's farm-hands: Mike Costanzo and Jeff Fiorentino - plus former Oriole, Sal "The 'Stache" Fasano).

It is a travesty that it isn't televised: however am I going to get by without seeing Craig Brazell hit? Thankfully Roch Kubatko kept the O's faithful informed, and I can piece together the goings on from his posts:

Top 1st:

First-round draft pick Brian Matusz starts things off on the mound for the O's.

He gets ahead 0-2 on the first batter but gives up a single up the middle. Matusz picks him off, and then records a groundout to Scott Moore at third and a flyout to left by Costanzo to end the inning.

Roch: "He threw 20 pitches, 14 for strikes... It looked like Matusz had good velocity on his fastball."


Bottom 1st:

Roch: "Justin Christian and Donnie Murphy lined out in the first inning, and Moore struck out."

Moore's throw on the grounder in the top half of the innings wasn't great either, apparently. He needs to really impress people this spring to find a job on the team (even though his performance will likely say very little about his true talent level). I'm actually pulling for Murphy to take the spot that Chris Gomez probably has the lock on right now.

Top 2nd:

It's Troy Patton time in the second.

The first batter hits a grounder through the left side for a single, but retires the next two guys with a groundout to third (no word on throw quality) and a flyout. A walk puts two on, but Patton gets out of it by getting the next hitter to ground to second on the first pitch.

Roch: "Patton, who didn't pitch last year after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum, threw 11 of his 18 pitches for strikes."

Luke Scott was a good return all by himself, but if Patton can recover from his injuries the Tejada trade could be a steal.

Bottom 2nd:

Oscar Salazar - who's fight for a roster spot took a major hit with the Ty Wigginton signing - grounds out to the pitcher.

Super-uber-prospect Matt Wieters draws a walk and Lou Montanez singles to right, with a Craig Brazell flyout in-between.

This set up a good opportunity for Nolan Reimold to make an impression, but he popped out to first. Two runners stranded.

Top 3rd:

Brad Bergesen in for the third, and he should stay out there for two innings.

He gave up a single - and then the runner stole second when Wieters bobbled the transfer - but kept Italy off the board.

Roch: "Bergesen, who works just as quickly in Fort Lauderdale as he does in Frederick and Bowie, struck out the next two batters. He was pumping one strike after another."

Might he be the mystery starter who Rick Kranitz thinks might win a job in the rotation to start the season?

Bottom 3rd:

Here comes the offense.

With one out, Justin Christian singled and stole second. Donnie Murphy drove him in with a double to left, and then he came in to score on a Scott Moore double off the wall in right-center. After a Salazar strike-out, Matt Wieters walked for a second time. Craig Brazell singled in Moore, and then the umpires ended the inning for some reason.

3-0 O's.

Top 4th:

Roch: "Bergesen retired the side in order, including a strikeout, in the fourth. Very impressive outing."

Bottom 4th:

Roch: "The Orioles stranded two runners in the fourth, with a diving backhanded catch by the second baseman robbing Justin Christian of an RBI single.

Lou Montanez struck out looking. Nolan Reimold walked and moved up on a wild pitch. Justin Turner reached on an error and stole second after Christian's line drive. Donnie Murphy bounced to the mound."

Attaboy, Nolan.

Top 5th:

Roch: "Chris Tillman dominated the three batters he faced in the fifth inning.

Tillman struck out the first batter, got ahead 1-2 before inducing a bouncer to second and closed the inning with another bouncer to third on a 2-2 off-speed pitch. He was throwing hard and locating his fastball with Uehara-like precision.

Of the 14 pitches thrown by Tillman, 10 were strikes."

I still have Tillman above both Matusz and Arrietta on the Big Three depth chart.

Bottom 5th:

Roch: "The Orioles got a two-out, bloop double from catcher Guillermo Rodriguez in the fifth. Scott Moore grounded out, Oscar Salazar struck out and Craig Brazell flied to center."

Rodriguez came in for Wieters (if they won't pitch to him anyway, why not give someone else a chance to hit?) the previous inning.

Top 6th:

Roch: "Jake Arrieta didn't allow a ball out of the infield in the sixth. He induced a ground ball to first, fielded a tapper near the mound and struck out the next hitter. He was popping the catcher's mitt with such force, planes were diverted to the Miami airport.

I'm not even sure what that means, but he was throwing hard."

Which Big Three (definitely need a better name for them - "Big Three" is so standard. ) member will win a Cy Young first? Now those are the kinds of arguments it'll be nice to have again.

Bottom 6th:

Roch: "Lou Montanez struck out, Nolan Reimold reached on an error and Justin Turner lined into a double play."

Top 7th:

Wilfredo Perez (meh) takes his turn and strikes out the side. Future bullpen fodder, but not a bad arm to have around.

Bottom 7th:

The subs are coming in to play: Robby Hammock at C, Blake Davis at SS, and Brandon Snyder making an appearance at 3B.

Roch: "Robby Hammock flied out in the seventh. Davis and Snyder grounded out."

Top 8th:

Often overlooked but MinorLeagueBaseball sleeper prospect David Hernandez is on in the eighth.

Roch: "David Hernandez didn't allow a ball out of the infield in the eighth, getting a called third strike and two grounders."

One of the groundouts went to Snyder at third, who he bobbled the ball and made a bad throw to first (though the out was still recorded).

He might want to get used to coming in from the pen. though I think that's a role he could be very successful in.

Bottom 8th:

Only info. is a home run by catcher Adam Donachie to make it 4-0.

Top 9th:

Jim Hoey in to close it out.

Roch: "Hoey threw nine of his 14 pitches for strikes. He allowed an infield hit, with Snyder making a lunging stop at third, but got a fly ball and the double-play grounder from Costanzo."

Bottom 9th:

They let the O's hit even though the game was over, but nothing came of it.

Great day for Orioles' pitchers. Their final line was 9 IP, 4 H (all singles), 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K. They got strike-outs and groundballs, and limited the walks - that is definitely the recipe for continued success. Maybe the team should use eight different pitchers for every game. My question is; do they get to play the Orioles Magic song after the win?

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