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Wright is right, but Orioles bullpen gives up five solo homers in 5-4 loss to Pirates

Orioles right-hander Mike Wright keeps rolling along. He pitched three more scoreless innings in Thursday’s 5-4 Grapefruit League loss the Pittsburgh Pirates at LECOM Park.

That makes 10 straight shutout innings this spring, so it’s easy to conclude that — so far — this is his best overall performance in any of his big league camps.

“I think if you look at the stats, it is,” he said. “I feel pretty good right now. I hope to keep that rolling and continue to have the best spring possible.”

Wright admits to being a big superstitious, so he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself. There’s still half an exhibition season to go, but he certainly has put himself in a good position to make the club and perhaps win one of the open spots in the starting rotation.

He has been in this position before, but said that he’s pitching with tremendous confidence, which hasn’t always been the case.

“Absolutely more confidence than in awhile,” he said. “Maybe since 2016. It’s 100 percent because of the work we’re putting in here, the work we’re doing with the coaching staff — top to bottom — even with Chris Holt the minor league coordinator.

“Everybody’s on the same page. It’s exciting. They say, ‘This is what you got. Go out and use it this way.’ It’s just exciting putting that work in and seeing results right now.”

Wright credits the information that is coming to the pitchers through the enhanced emphasis on analytics that new general manager Mike Elias has brought to the organization.

“They tell me what I need to hear on a daily basis and in between bullpens and in between starts,” he said. “We’re working on different machines, but right now the confidence and the results are kind of speaking for themselves.

“Confidence is huge. I can’t stress that enough. It seems weird for people who don’t go out there every single day, but it’s big and obviously it helps your confidence behind you’ve got defense behind you like we played to day. Like I said, this is exciting.”

Manager Brandon Hyde continues to be impressed.

“The results are obviously really good,” Hyde said. “I was just impressed with, I thought he threw a bunch of really good cutters and his pitch mix was outstanding. I thought he was really unpredictable. And he threw strikes and went after hitters and was aggressive. Continues to really pitch well.”

Ramirez struggles

The ball was flying out of LECOM Park, especially when Orioles right-hander Yefry Ramirez was on the mound.

Ramirez also pitched three innings, but could not keep the ball in the park. He allowed homers to Erik Gonzalez and Adam Frazier in the fifth inning and gave up back-to-back homers to Patrick Kivlehan and Cole Tucker in the seventh.

Tucker would hit a second home run in the ninth inning off O’s reliever Brandon Kline to win the game.

“I just thought Yefry got into some predictable counts,” Hyde said. “One was the changeup, the other three were fastballs, kind of thigh-high, kind of ambushed, selling out on fastballs on him. Around that, he pitched pretty good with some really good changeups. But just left the ball in the middle part of the plate three times, and they had their home run swing going.

“You just can't fall behind In the big leagues, like Kline right there in the ninth inning. You fall behind 2-0, and they're going to take their A swing and you have to come in there.”

Wilkerson hits first homer

O’s utility candidate Stevie Wilkerson hit his first home run of the spring in the fifth inning — a mammoth shot that easily cleared the center-field fence.

He hasn’t hit for average so far, entering the game with just three hits in 21 at-bats, but he has made the most of them. The solo homer gave him six RBIs.

“I've been off to a bit of a slow start at the plate,” Wilkerson said, “but I've been playing some solid defense and moving around a lot, which has been good. Overall, the camp has been a lot of fun, and there's a really good vibe amongst the guys. I think collectively, we've had a pretty good start.”

Wilkerson can play just about every position and said he’s more than okay with auditioning for a utility role.

“Every day I come to the field and know I'm playing baseball, and that's about it,’’ he said. “That's an exciting thing. Responsibility-wise, it's just checking your name on the lineup card and filling whatever you have to do that day. Overall, I love moving around.”

Hays’ highlight film catch

Austin Hays started in center field and delivered a true web gem when he made a diving catch on the warning track to rob Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes of an extra-base hit. He got up favoring his left arm, which probably was sporting a pretty significant raspberry.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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