Orioles right-hander Mike Wright turned in his finest performance of the spring, tossing five scoreless innings in Thursday's home night split-squad game against the Minnesota Twins.
Wright, who became the first Orioles pitcher to log five innings this spring, pushed his name further into the starting rotation conversation with his outing, allowing just four hits while striking out two and walking none.
"I wouldn't say it's the best I've felt, " Wright said. "I felt really good, but I have my last three starts – every single one of them felt pretty good. ... Like I said before in my last two starts, that could easily have been the same results, because I felt good, I felt like I was locating well. All my pitches felt pretty good, so I was happy to finally get the results in this game."
Wright ended his outing having retired 13 of the final 15 batters he faced, allowing only a pair of two-out singles to Carlos Quentin and Eddie Rosario in the fourth inning. His fastball sat at 95 mph.
In the first inning, Wright allowed two of the first three hitters to reach base after back-to-back one-out singles by Eduardo Nunez and Miguel Sano, but then induced an inning-ending double play from cleanup hitter Carlos Quentin.
"I've had a lot of times when I've had a guy on first or first and second and really needed a double play and it just hasn't seemed to happen, so for that to come, especially right there in the first, was huge," Wright said.
Wright's performance came after allowing five runs on five hits over 2 2/3 innings in a 7-1 loss to the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.
Take away that outing and Wright had pitched to a 2.00 ERA, allowing just two runs on nine hits in his other three spring training outings spanning nine innings.
“Usually, the guys that are working on stuff, they have a spot," Wright said. "And I don’t have a guaranteed spot, so to get the results is huge, because even though you’re doing your part – you’re making your pitches – if you’re giving up runs, it doesn’t look good to put you on the roster. To get the results is good for confidence and it makes me feel better going home tonight.”
Wright is one of the pitchers – along with right-hander Tyler Wilson, right-hander Vance Worley and right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne – who could sneak into a starting rotation that seemed to be set once the Orioles signed veteran right-hander Yovani Gallardo.
"I felt like that ever since I came in," Wright said. "Everything's a competition, even if there were five set spots, there was no telling what happens. For me not to come out here and compete would be not good for myself or the team, so I was coming out to compete ever since Day One. I don't think anything's changed even though he's bringing it to light now."