SARASOTA, Fla. — The wind was blowing out of Ed Smith Stadium, but it was the Minnesota Twins who took greater advantage of the homer-friendly conditions on the way to a wild 10-9 victory over the Orioles on Tuesday.
The Twins homered for the cycle, hitting a solo shot, a two-run shot a three-run homer and a grand slam – in that order. First baseman Kennys Vargas appeared to break the game open with the three-run shot off Tommy Hunter in the fifth inning and shortstop Eduardo Escobar launched the grand slam to straightaway center field against T.J. McFarland in the sixth.
Right-hander Bud Norris gave up the other two homers – to Trevor Plouffe and Eduardo Nunez – during a four-inning performance in which he gave up five hits, walked one and struck out one.
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis put the Orioles in front in the bottom of the first inning with his second opposite-field home run in as many days. He went the other way at Bright House Field in Clearwater against Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels on Monday.
Tuesday's homer was the first at Ed Smith Stadium by an Orioles player on St. Patrick's Day since the team moved its spring operation to Sarasota. It also came on Davis's 29th birthday.
The Orioles fell behind 10-1 before scratching back into the game during the middle and late innings. They scored twice in the sixth on a two-run single by J.J. Hardy and four times in the seventh on run-scoring groundouts by Steve Clevenger and Dariel Alvarez and a two-run triple off the top of the right field fence by red-hot utility infield candidate Jimmy Paredes.
Paredes originally was credited with his second three-run homer in the space of 24 hours, but the border call was reversed after Paul Molitor went out and the umpires to reconsider it.
The triple and a bloop single in the ninth raised Paredes exhibition batting average to a team-leading .478.
The Orioles almost completed the huge comeback. Clevenger delivered a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth to make it a one-run game, but could not close the deal in the ninth and fell to 4-12 in exhibition action – the worst spring record of any team in the major leagues.
Flaherty hit in head
Infielder Ryan Flaherty underwent procedural concussion tests after he was hit in the helmet by a pitch thrown by Twins left-hander Brian Duensing in the sixth inning of Tuesday's game. His status is uncertain, but he definitely won't make the trip to Fort Myers on Wednesday to play the Twins.
On an 0-2 count, Flaherty was plunked by an 87-mph fastball, knocking his helmet off. He remained on his feet and walked to first base, but was removed from the game after he was evaluated by head trainer Richie Bancells.
"He felt good," Showalter said. "He wanted to stay in, but we knew that [he couldn't]."
Flaherty underwent a SCAT3 test — which is a standardized test used to evaluate concussions — per standard Major League Baseball procedure and he will be re-evaluated on Wednesday morning, the club announced.
"I think he's going to be all right," Showalter said. "He was scheduled on the trip (Wednesday), we won't take him. [Team trainers] are going to keep in touch with him during the night and see how he feels tomorrow. It was scary."
Major League Baseball and the players union has worked to become more stringent when dealing with concussions, instilling a seven-day concussion disabled list in 2013.
Getting Jimmy with it
Third baseman Jimmy Paredes continued his scalding spring training with two-hit day on Tuesday that included a two-out, two-run triple in the seventh inning against the Twins.
Initially, Paredes was awarded a three-run home run, but after the umpires conferred, the call was reversed and Paredes was sent back to third base.
Over his past three games, Paredes is 5-for-6 with a double, triple, a homer and seven RBIs. He drove in five runs in the Orioles' 16-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday afternoon in Clearwater, Fla.
With no minor league options remaining — he would have to clear waivers before he is sent — Paredes is making it a difficult decision for the Orioles.
He leads the club with a .478 average (11-for-23) three doubles and nine RBIs. He is second on the club with 19 total bases.
"I can tell he likes it here," Showalter said. "He likes the environment. I don't think anybody enjoyed September and October more than Jimmy Paredes last year.
"He was engaged. He had a blast. Jimmy's coming here trying to make the club. We don't have any options, but we have plenty of options. We can keep him if we want to. We'll see."
If Paredes makes the team, it will be because of his improved defense. He made three errors in 30 chances last season, but has shown a better glove at third base, even though he committed a fielding error in Tuesday's game.
Around the horn
Despite scoring eight unanswered runs and having the tying run on base in the ninth, the Orioles lost to the Twins, 10-9. Minnesota homered for the cycle in the game, hitting a solo home run, a two-run shot, a three-run homer and a grand slam — in that order. First baseman Kennys Vargas hit the three-run shot off Tommy Hunter in the fifth inning and shortstop Eduardo Escobar launched the grand slam to straightaway center field against T.J. McFarland in the sixth. … The announced crowd of 7,615 on Tuesday was the Orioles' seventh spring sellout in eight home games at Ed Smith Stadium. … Right-hander Ryan Webb (left knee swelling) is expected to throw one more bullpen session before returning to games. Webb tweaked his knee while playing catch before a workout and was told he had an allergic reaction to ice after the knee swelled. … No roster cuts were announced on Tuesday. … Right-hander Darren O'Day threw a scoreless inning on Tuesday and has thrown five scoreless innings this spring. … Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will made his fourth spring start on Wednesday against the Twins in Fort Myers, Fla. He has allowed 10 runs — nine earned — over 7 1/3 innings this spring.