LAKELAND, FLA. — Starting pitcher Tyler Wilson looked like he might be overmatched by the star-studded Detroit Tigers lineup in the Orioles' Grapefruit League opener Friday afternoon. But he delivered a surprisingly tight two-inning performance, during which he threw just 21 pitches and the heart of the Tigers lineup did not get a sniff.
Wilson needed just six pitches to retire veterans Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera in the first inning. He needed a few more than that to get through the second, but struck out J.D. Martinez, got Justin Upton on a routine fly ball to center and retired Omar Infante on a foul popout to get the decision in the Orioles' 2-0 victory at Joker Marchant Stadium.
"For sure, it's a great challenge out of the gate," Wilson said. "February 24 ... and facing some of the best hitters in the game — a great lineup — that's definitely a great challenge. That's all the more reason to establish strikes early on."
No one puts too much stock in the first exhibition appearance of the spring, and Wilson understands that, but he had to enjoy playing David to a lineup of Goliaths.
"As much as it's about working on your delivery and timing and proving that you command the zone, at this stage of the game it's also good to be competitive and not fall behind guys like that because that's when they can embarrass you a little bit," he said.
Manager Buck Showalter didn't seem the least bit surprised by Wilson's mastery of the Tigers, who only came close to scoring a couple of times.
"Tyler's a reliable pitcher," Showalter said. "He's a guy that's always ready, in great shape, always aggressive, throws strikes. He's a guy you always reach back for because he's always reliable. You know what you're going to get from him."
Left-hander T.J. McFarland was expected to clear waivers at 1 p.m. Friday, but the Orioles have been tight-lipped about his status. It's possible that they were still trying to convince him to accept an outright assignment. … Showalter said before the game that outfielder-first baseman David Washington jammed his shoulder diving back into a base during one of the intrasquad games, but should be OK soon. … Reliever Logan Ondrusek (ankle) also is close to resuming normal activities.