Alfredo Simon finally blinked in the first inning of the Orioles' final exhibition season, giving up a first-inning grand slam to Josh Willingham to teeter on the brink of his first blow-up outing of the spring. Instead, he collected himself, held the Washington Nationals scoreless for the next 4 1/3 innings and may have benefitted from what I like to call the "Apollo 13 Effect."
If you know your history -- or you like Tom Hanks movies -- you know that Apollo 13 was the moon mission that went awry, forcing the cancellation of the surface landing and a suspenseful-but-eventually-safe return to earth for the three-man crew. Technically, the mission was a failure, but it would be viewed in hindsight as an important achievement because of the way ground control and the astronauts adapted to a bad situation and averted disaster.
Sure, it's a reach to compare Simon's outing to a space mission, but that's why this blog is the wildly entertaining info-vehicle that it is. The Orioles No. 3 starter figures to gain some psychological benefit from proving to himself that he can battle his way out of a bad performance. Guess we'll find out on Thursday.