Sarasota, Fla. — Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner took enough from his three innings pitched in his Grapefruit League debut Sunday, a 7-5 win over the split-squad Detroit Tigers at Ed Smith Stadium, to leave feeling like his spring was going in the right direction.
Cashner, who threw 54 pitches in three innings, allowed a three-run home run to the fourth batter he faced — first baseman Niko Goodrum — after a hit batter and a single, then retired six straight before three straight two-out hits in the third inning plated a fourth run.
In between, Cashner said, he showcased much of what he's been working on ahead of the 2019 season.
"I thought I spun the ball really well," Cashner said. "Something I’ve been working on, more slider strikes instead of balls. Changeup had good depth. I’ve just got to get my four-seam [going], get more extension.”
On the home run, Cashner said he and catcher Austin Wynns felt the 91-mph fastball was a good pitch, but "it might have been up a little bit too much.”
"It's just something I've got to work on, working the fastball both sides of the plate," Cashner said.
Cashner didn't pitch down the stretch last season with a knee injury, and also spent a week on the injured list midseason with neck soreness, but said he's worked to be in a better place physically this spring.
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"It’s just more staying healthy, taking better care of myself," Cashner said. "My neck’s been an issue the last few years, but I feel like a lot more mobility stuff I did this offseason, a lot more yoga, a lot more stretching, just trying to put myself and my body in a better position. ... My knee’s been great. I felt like once I got past the end of November, my body felt great and I haven’t had any problems so far.”
Santander, Hays homer
A pair of players coming off down years in 2018 — Austin Hays and Anthony Santander — each homered to account for the Orioles' early offense.
Hays hit a 3-2 fastball out to left-center field in the third inning off starter Matt Boyd, and Santander, who doubled in the second inning, hit a three-run homer the following inning to tie the game at 4. Santander also doubled in his third plate appearance to bring his average to .462 this spring and scored the tying run on a single by Joey Rickard.
Mountcastle makes it happen
It hasn’t been the most productive spring at the plate for infielder Ryan Mountcastle, but he showed what he’s capable of with an eighth-inning at-bat off hard-throwing left-hander Gregory Soto.
Mountcastle worked an eight-pitch at-bat with several protective foul balls before staying back on a 3-2 breaking ball and looping it for a base hit over the shortstop. The 22-year-old’s quick hands allow him to be patient in starting his swing even against premium velocity, and the resulting knock, followed by a wild pitch and a passed ball, put him in position to score the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Rule 5 draft infielder Drew Jackson. Minor leaguer T.J. Nichting had an RBI single in the eighth inning as well.
Kline's clean spring ends
Left-hander Tanner Scott pitched a perfect fourth inning and right-hander Gabriel Ynoa retired all six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh, but in between, right-hander Branden Kline hit his first roadblock of a strong spring.
Kline struck out five with one walk in two innings over his first two appearances, but he allowed a run on a pair of hits and a wild pitch while retiring two batters in the fifth inning Sunday.