SARASOTA, Fla. – In what has been a spring of watching the Orioles deal with injuries, one player that’s on the mend had a nice moment Friday in the team's 6-5 win over the Boston Red Sox.
Right fielder Nick Markakis who had just one extra-base hit in his first 12 spring at-bats, hit a wind-aided, two-run homer against right-hander Clay Buchholz in the third inning to break a tie and give the Orioles a lead they didn’t relinquish.
It was the first spring homer for Markakis, who is coming back from January abdomen surgery. It was just this fifth game this spring, and his second in the outfield.
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“There were some guys kind of semi-rolling their eyes with the wind and he said, ‘That would have been a double in Boston. Come on, I am working on my Fenway Stroke,’” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s just good to see him smile and move freer each time he is out there and know that he is getting close.”
Markakis wasn’t the only star outfielder to go deep for the Orioles. Center fielder Adam Jones hit a mammoth, two-run shot in the first against Buchholz. It was Jones’ team-leading third homer of the spring. He also has a team-leading 10 RBIs.
Robert Andino added an RBI single and an RBI double, and the Orioles held off a late push by the Red Sox, who scored lone runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth.
Orioles starter Jason Hammel, in his fourth appearance of the spring, lasted two laborious innings that included foul ball after foul by the Red Sox.
He allowed three hits, two walks and two earned runs while striking out four in his shortest stint since his first spring game on March 8.
Facing a Red Sox lineup that featured just one regular, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Hammel was expected to pitch longer. But he threw 59 pitches – 36 for strikes – before coming out prior to the start of the third for Brad Bergesen, who threw three scoreless innings.
“It was frustrating. I was making pretty good pitches,” Hammel said. “A lot of foul balls, extended innings, the heat. You can make all the excuses in the world but I am pretty pleased with the work today no matter what the line would be.”
Hammel threw roughly 30 more pitches in the bullpen after his outing to increase his pitch count without the stress of another inning against live hitters.
“[We did it] because of that load in that one inning, he had close to 40 pitches in [the second],” Showalter said. “Obviously, it would be a little more controlled environment down in the bullpen.”