Wade Miley entered his final spring training start Tuesday needing to prove to Buck Showalter he was physically ready for the season.
Miley had thrown just nine Grapefruit League innings going into Tuesday's road game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. He left his second spring start after just one inning after getting hit by a pitch, and because of an extended battle with the flu that scratched him from a mid-March start, he went two weeks between pitching in a Grapefruit League game before Tuesday's start.
Showalter hoped to get four innings from Miley, and a hot, sticky day at Disney's Wide World of Sports offered a test in stamina that the Orioles manager wanted to see as well.
Miley did hit part, tossing four innings of one-run ball in the Orioles' 5-4 win over the Braves for his best and longest outing of the spring. Miley allowed six base runners – on five singles and a walk – but the only runs against him came on Freddie Freeman's sacrifice fly in the third inning.
"I felt like I didn't get super tired at all," Miley said. "Got the pitch count back to where I wanted to be at. Everything went well. … I feel like I was in a pretty good spot out there. Was able to make pitches, execute pitches."
After he was scratched from a start on March 19, Miley had two side sessions before making Tuesday's start. He hadn't pitched more than three innings in any of his outings, so he needed to continue to build his innings.
"Yeah absolutely, just to get up and down that many times," Miley said. "I feel like I was throwing all four pitches for strikes, commanding them in and out. I think that's huge."
Miley admitted he has seen far fewer game situations than during past springs, but still believed he is physically ready to start the season.
"It was because I'm used to throwing 15, 16, 17 innings and those innings weren't there," Miley said. "A lot of stuff I had to do, side work. It's a little different when you don't have a hitter in the box. But hopefully, I can stay fresh and ready for the season."
Heading into the game, there was a possibility that the team could place Miley on the disabled list to start the season if the club didn't believe he was ready. Because DL moves can be backdated to March 30 with the new 10-day DL, Miley would be able to return on April 9, the team's fifth game of the season.
Designated hitter Pedro Alvarez's two-run single off Braves lefty Jaime Garcia gave the Orioles a 3-0 lead. They scored their first run on Ryan Flaherty's two-out RBI triple to right-center field in the second inning.
After the Braves scored three runs in the eighth off Jimmy Yacabonis to tie the game, minor leaguer Austin Hays gave the Orioles a 5-4 lead with a two-out RBI single that hit off the first-base bag.
Gentry an on-base machine: Right fielder Craig Gentry continued to push for an Opening Day roster spot, reaching base in all three plate appearances with a double and two walks.
“It’s hard not to [talk about him],” Showalter said. “He does something every day to impact the game and win a ball game.”
Over the course of spring training, the non-roster invitee has stood out not only defensively, but also with getting on base and providing a speed threat on the bases.
His spring training on-base percentage is .443. Gentry also stole two bases Tuesday and is 7-for-7 on stolen base attempts this spring. Last season, the Orioles stole 19 bases, the lowest mark in the majors, and Joey Rickard led the team with just four steals.
“He’s [Gentry] a baseball player…” Showalter said. “He’s a trustworthy guy if he’s healthy. … He probably would be one of our better baserunners. He really knows how to run the bases. He made some really good decisions today.”
Drake finishes off strong: Right-hander Oliver Drake tossed two scoreless innings Tuesday, a much-needed outing given his spring-long struggles.
Drake entered the day with a club-worst 10.32 ERA, but allowed just two hits and struck out one for his first scoreless outing in his last four appearances.