Since Miguel Gonzalez last pitched in Grapefruit League action, the Orioles have had two men widely perceived to be in contention for his spot in the rotation turn in good performances.
Manager Buck Showalter said before Gonzalez's start Friday that it was time for the right-hander's efforts to yield some results. In the ensuing 11-2 win over the New York Yankees, they did.
Gonzalez responded with his best outing of the spring against the Yankees, allowing two runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout in four innings. He conceded after the start, which he entered having allowed 18 hits and 14 runs in 5 2/3 spring innings, that the performance was one he needed.
"I think we all [need them] — we all do at some point," he said. "You want to feel confident going toward the season. We have a couple more days. We're not counting, but it's definitely good to have this type of outing."
Gonzalez faced the minimum in all but the second inning. The only blemish came in the second inning, when a two-out flare by Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius over second baseman Jonathan Schoop's leap scored two runs.
But that was all New York could muster off Gonzalez, whose 55 pitches and four innings represented his highs of the spring and a good foundation for him as the march to Opening Day continues.
"You want to keep going, of course," Gonzalez said. "You want to finish strong. The next start, work hard again, keep doing what we're doing and we'll be OK."
Gonzalez rightly pointed out that the Orioles offense, which scored a spring-high 11 runs, and defense were superlative. So was the relief of Odrisamer Despaigne, who allowed one hit in three scoreless innings.
Making a rare appearance at first base this spring, Mark Trumbo showed a bat that will play at any position. Trumbo put the Orioles up big in the first with a three-run home run off Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia that nearly hit off Sabathia's face on the video board. In the fourth inning, Trumbo drove in a fourth run on a single.
Making a similarly rare spring road trip, third baseman Manny Machado accounted for four Orioles runs of his own. He had an RBI double in the first inning, drove in two with a bases-loaded single in the fourth and had a ground ball ramp up the pitchers mound into center field to drive in another run in the sixth. Machado's 3-for-4 performance brings his spring average to .344.
Turnabout is fair play
Orioles right fielder Dariel Alvarez showed his plus-plus arm Friday on two occasions, one a throw home that Dustin Ackley narrowly beat on Gregorius' run-scoring hit and the other to cut down catcher Brian McCann at second base in the third inning. Unfortunately for him, he was similarly pegged at second trying to stretch a single in the seventh inning.