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Homers harmless for Orioles rotation aspirants Asher Wojciechowski, Bruce Zimmermann in 4-3 win over Braves

A pair of ambush home runs against rotation aspirants Asher Wojciechowski and Bruce Zimmermann didn’t deter them from pitching two strong innings apiece in a bounce-back pitching performance for the Orioles in a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in a Grapefruit League game Wednesday at Ed Smith Stadium.

Wojciechowski, whose spring debut was pushed back because of a minor blister problem, allowed a first-pitch home run in the second inning after a 1-2-3 first, and Zimmermann’s first spring pitch in the third resulted in a home run as well.

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Otherwise, each came out of the day with plenty to build on.

“I just went out there and the focus was to throw strikes and the first time out there, you always kind of have that little self-doubt when it’s been through the offseason,” Wojciechowski said. “It’s nice to go out there and execute pitches and just get back into the rhythm.”

Wojciechowski, whom the Orioles bought from the Cleveland Indians last summer and had jump right into a rotation spot, said he’s not taking for granted that he’ll reprise that role once camp breaks. He’s adding a splitter as a fourth pitch, which brought on the blister, and mixed it in some en route to striking out two and allowing a run on two hits.

“I’m going to go check right now but I think everything turned out healthy and I thought he had a good fastball today, and located pretty well,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “That was a good first outing for him.”

Zimmermann, who is from Ellicott City and grew up supporting the Orioles, was facing a Braves team that traded him in 2018 in a deal that sent Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day to Atlanta. He saw they were being aggressive with Wojciechowski’s first-pitch fastballs, but he didn’t locate his well enough and had to move on from the home run quickly. He got out of both the third and fourth innings with double plays.

“He did a nice job, just kind of left a fastball up over the plate to a guy we don’t know very well, and gave up a homer,” Hyde said. “After that I thought he mixed his pitches well and threw strikes, did a nice job attacking hitters. A nice two innings.”

He took the experience of facing major leaguers like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies as valuable experience as he looks to show the Orioles coaches he can be a durable rotation option at some point this season.

“Growing up as an Orioles fan, this is everything I could dream for,” he said. “This is another step in the process. Being down here with the guys, getting introduced to the culture, meeting the guys that are up there day-to-day, it’s been great so far and I’m looking forward to continuing building on that.

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“I know there’s a lot of people watching. I was getting a lot of texts yesterday saying good luck, and this morning, and whatnot. I know some of my friends will probably give me hell for giving up a first pitch home run, but besides that, I know it’s probably a lot of support and love from my family and friends back home. And I appreciate that.”

Score quick and hang on

Hanser Alberto and Dwight Smith Jr. singled and scored on wild pitches in an aggressive first inning on the bases for the Orioles, and outfielder Ryan McKenna had a run-scoring single and scored on a wild pitch in the fourth to account for the rest of the Orioles’ output.

Sweet relief

The Orioles used a well-known crop of relievers after the two-inning stints from Wojciechowski and Zimmermann, and all finished their innings, which is the goal at this point in the spring.

Shawn Armstrong worked out of a jam in the fifth and Richard Bleier allowed a run on two hits in the sixth. Evan Phillips and Branden Kline had hitless, scoreless innings.

Spring training

Pirates@Orioles

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Thursday, 1:05 p.m.

Radio: MLB.com

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