Despite tough start by Gabriel Ynoa, Orioles win 10-8 over Red Sox
The Orioles and the Boston Red Sox rained baseballs all over Ed Smith Stadium on Sunday in a game that will not be remembered by anyone by the end of the week.
The Grapefruit League exhibition season is full of such games, which match minor league pitchers against major league hitters (and vice versa) under conditions that generally allow the baseball to achieve optimum speed and distance.
So, instead of being memorable, the Orioles’ 10-8 victory was nice enough to serve as a reminder of what they had to overcome last year to beat their chief rivals in the American League East. And a preseason television schedule that put the game on in both the Mid-Atlantic region and New England created a rare situation this early in the spring where both teams posted very representative major league offensive lineups.
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The Orioles fell behind by six runs by the end of the second inning before banging away until they rang up 13 hits and overcame the big early deficit. They had to do the same thing a lot last year, because of the frequent early-inning blowups by several struggling starting pitchers.
It’s probably difficult to remember after the horrid late-season collapse that sank them to the bottom of the standings, but the O’s actually did that pretty well. They finished the season with a winning combined record against the Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees.
They won the season series against the Red Sox — which they have done five out of the past six seasons — but last year what was required to do that was an average of nearly seven runs per game in their 10 victories.
Manager Buck Showalter acknowledged that after the game and pointed out, quite rightly, that the plan this year has to be to avoid getting down big early. The signing of steady right-hander Andrew Cashner should solve part of that problem, if his 2017 and career ERAs are any indication.
Sure, there are plenty of things that are not yet knowable. Cashner and Chris Tillman got into camp late and haven’t joined the preseason rotation yet. Chris Davis is on the shelf with a sore elbow at a time when he really needs every opportunity to find his stroke at the plate, which is a reminder that falling behind big early isn’t just a pitching problem.
The fifth-starter competition is starting to shake out, though not in a good way for Sunday starter Gabriel Ynoa.
He was the guy who had to take the mound against that formidable Red Sox starting lineup and it didn’t go very well, but Showalter refused cut him or anybody else any slack. He would rather steer his starting pitchers around their division rivals at this time of year, but he said Sunday that it’s good for the young players in camp to come face-to-face with the teams that will challenge them the most if they make the club.
“I think it’s good for everybody to know we’ve got four rosters in there in that meeting room that are the four teams in our division,’’ he said. “We’ve got to figure out to be better than those four. The heck with the other 25 teams. This is what we have to be concerned with right now. Whether you’re going over there and playing their ‘A’ or ‘B’ [lineups], those are the uniforms we have to compete against.”