The Tampa Bay Rays picked up right where the Minnesota Twins left off in the afternoon game of a split-squad doubleheader that began in Fort Myers on Saturday afternoon. The Rays scored six runs in the fifth inning and defeated the Orioles, 10-6, after the Twins trounced the traveling team, 13-2.
It wasn’t all bad. Right-hander Kevin Gausman delivered the first positive outing from the projected starting rotation, pitching two scoreless innings while striking out three batters. Rays starter Drew Smyly was also sharp, pitching a pair of hitless innings and also striking out three before the two offensive lineups took the game over.
"Gausman was good," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "The guys that look like they have a chance to be on our club are pitching well. That's good to see."
The Rays erupted in the fifth against journeyman pitcher Todd Redmond and minor league pitcher Jon Keller. By the time that inning was over, every Rays batter except Corey Dickerson had reached base.
Relievers Pedro Beato, Darren O'Day and Mychal Givens each had scoreless appearances, with Beato lasting 1 2/3 innings. Closer Zach Britton allowed one run in one inning, but Showalter liked what he saw from the left-hander.
"Zach threw the ball well again. What did he have? Five or six ground balls? Darren, good in his first appearance. Givens. Beato's throwing the ball well. He's been impressive," Showalter said.
The Orioles entered the second game Saturday with a 7.95 team ERA, which put them at the very bottom of the major league exhibition rankings in that department, but – on the brighter side – there was no place to go but up, right?
Wrong. Orioles pitchers combined to give up 10 earned runs in the night game and actually raised that ERA to 8.31, solidifying 30th place in the ERA ranks.
There weren’t a lot of offensive highlights for the Orioles, but Rule 5 draftee Joey Rickard doubled twice in three at-bats to raise his spring average to .286. He was the only Orioles starter with more than one hit and the only one with an extra-base hit.
Even so, the Orioles delivered their highest run total in six exhibition games, thanks in part to three errors by the Rays.
Reimold in right
Nolan Reimold was in the starting lineup in right field for Saturday night’s game. He has largely played left field in the majors, but said that he’s comfortable at the other corner-outfield position.
“If you’re playing one position and you switch over, it’s different at first but eventually it just becomes normal and you adapt to it," he said. “If that’s the case, I’ll just keep getting reps out there and get used to it again.”
Showalter has said that Reimold also is one of the outfield candidates who he would be comfortable using in center field to give Adam Jones a break once in a while.
“That’s good to know," Reimold said. “I’m definitely ready for it when that comes around, but Adam is one of those guys who plays every day. If he needs a blow, I’d be happy to fill in or wherever I may be needed.”