The Orioles opened their home exhibition schedule with a wild-and-crazy 11-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Ed Smith Stadium on Wednesday that featured a frightening spring debut by starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and the first Chris Davis moonshot of the Grapefruit League season.
Jimenez gave up six runs and got just one batter out in a seven-run first inning that put the Orioles in catch-up mode from the very start. He allowed three hits and walked three in a 34-pitch outing that featured only 16 strikes.
The Orioles fell behind by eight before Davis connected on a solo shot and Jonathan Schoop hammered a two-run blast into the party area in left field in a four-run second inning, but that would be the end of the comeback attempt. The Braves tacked on three more runs and the Orioles were held scoreless the rest of the way.
When the wind is blowing out to left field, the ball jumps right out of "The Ed" – not that Davis and Schoop need much help to muscle one out of the park.
Davis launched a towering drive over everything in straightaway center that didn't come to a stop until it reached the third base cutout on the practice field behind the scoreboard. The Orioles paid Davis a ton to keep flexing his muscles at the plate and he didn't make anybody wait long to see him uncork his first monster blast.
Schoop followed close behind, pulling a line drive to left that was speared by a fan in the last row of bleacher tables. Braves leadoff man Mallex Smith and No. 9 hitter Ozzie Albies also went deep, clearing the center-field fence in front of the batter's eye.
Manager Buck Showalter has been marveling at how midseason-like closer Zach Britton has looked through the first two weeks of spring training, and that is no accident. Britton started throwing and working out with Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez in Sarasota in early January. It showed in the hitless fourth inning he pitched Wednesday in his exhibition debut.
Jimmy Paredes, who came to camp needing to show that he has improved defensively at third base and in the outfield, replaced Manny Machado at third in the late innings and handled all three outs in the seventh inning. The first two were fairly routine, but Paredes made a very strong throw from the deepest corner of the infield cutout to end the inning and strand a runner at third.