SARASOTA, FLA. — Right-hander Gabriel Ynoa might seem like an unlikely choice to become the first Orioles pitcher to throw four innings this spring. He didn’t even start Friday’s game against the Boston Red Sox at sold-out Ed Smith Stadium.
He came on in the fourth inning and gave up just one hit, setting himself up to get the decision when the Orioles scored twice in the sixth inning of a 4-2 victory.
“I was not really expecting to go four innings today,” Ynoa said through interpreter Ramón Alarcón, “but they gave me the opportunity and I went ahead with it and took advantage of the opportunity.”
In three exhibition appearances, Ynoa has thrown a total of eight innings and allowed just a run on four hits. He has eight strikeouts and has not walked a batter. Not a bad early impression to make in the battle for one of the final spots in the starting rotation, especially when the emphasis in camp has been on pitching aggressively.
He threw just 11 pitches in a scoreless first. But when Tzu-Wei Lin hit an RBI ground-rule double on his 29th pitch of the second inning, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde decided Cashner had been out there long enough. He left the game and completed his overall pitch count in the bullpen.
“I was really lobbying to keep going, but they didn’t want me going over 30 pitches [in an inning], and I understand,’’ Cashner said. “I got up to 60, so next time out I’ll get somewhere between 60 and 70 pitches, but overall feel great.”
Orioles outfielder Austin Hays had to re-learn how to run after offseason ankle surgery, and the resulting strides with that and his offseason fitness program have him in position to earn a major league job this spring.
“I thought that was some of the better stuff I’ve had in a while,’’ Cashner said. “I’ve been working on my slider and I thought it was tight. Pushed a couple of changeups, but thought I was back spinning the baseball real well.”
Jackson stays hot
Rule 5 infielder Drew Jackson, who was in the lineup as the designated hitter, had three hits in three at-bats to improve his spring average to .417. Jackson, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies after the Orioles chose Richie Martin with the first overall pick, is part of a crowded competition for an infield utility job.
Other offensive highlights
First baseman Renato Núñez got the Orioles even in the fourth inning with his second home run of the spring. He was hit by pitches in his two other plate appearances.
Hanser Alberto gave the Orioles the lead in sixth with a double to left field, and Chance Sisco followed immediately with a run-scoring single to add to the slim lead.
The Orioles also scored a run in the seventh inning when Anthony Santander drove in Jackson with a double.