O’s pitching shaky in loss to Twins

Grayson Rodriguez is starting to see that the talent between Triple-A and the majors is a bit different. Not that it’s shaking his confidence, but he is seeing that dominating is not going to be as easy.

Making his second start of the spring, Rodriguez was a bag of mixed results today, as he once again faced a lineup full of major league talent.

Rodriguez coasted through the first inning, throwing 11 pitches, including a strikeout. His four-seamer averaged 98.2, which he threw four times.

The second inning was a little bit different. Though he collected two strikeouts to end the inning, he gave up a home run and a double sandwiched around a ground out. He still threw only 15 pitches in the inning.

Things got a little shaky in the third, as Rodriguez was unable to finish the inning. He started the inning by allowing a double and a walk. That would be followed by a lineout and a four-pitch strikeout before another walk loaded the bases.

Rodriguez would end the day at 55 pitches, 35 for strikes, with three hits, one run, two walks and four strikeouts over 2.2 innings. Rodriguez was hurt by down the middle pitches, but his confidence was not shaken at all.

“So far, they’re no different than anybody else I’ve played,” Rodriguez said about his outing. “Obviously, walks will hurt you. Fastballs down the middle will get you, too, so just attacking them like any other hitter.”

The good thing is that this is spring and a chance for the young rookie to work on mistakes, adjust and prepare for the regular season.

Spenser Watkins came in to start the fourth and would pitch three innings. Though he surrendered five hits, he allowed just one run and collected a strikeout.

A different style of pitcher, Watkins is making an impression this camp and has left one on Orioles manager Brandon Hyde the last couple years.

“What Spenser [Watkins] did for us last year, it needs to be recognized,” Hyde said.

Ofreidy Gómez would end the game, allowing three walks and two runs, the game winner in a wild pitch.

Blaine Knight, who relieved Rodriguez, was the only pitcher to not have a run next to his game line, as he pitched a third of an inning. Logan Gillaspie allowed a run, unearned, in an inning of work.

On offense, the young guns came out to play today, and they each put up interesting displays of talent.

Colton Cowser, the Orioles’ No. 4 prospect, is showing why he will be making his big league debut later this season. Today, he walked twice and scored two runs but was 0-for-2 at the plate.

Though he’s batting just .182 this spring, his OPS is .955. Cowser has now walked, homered or struck out in 13 of his 16 plate appearances.

Coby Mayo was 1-for-2 with a run, hitting a double that was clocked at 111.5 mph off the bat, catching the attention of Hyde.

“That was loud,” Hyde said.

Jordan Westburg collected a double in four at-bats. His double was hit at 107.8 mph, and he had a lineout clocked at 104.2 mph. The Orioles have some hard-hitting talent.

Jackson Holliday, the 19-year-old No. 3 prospect for the Orioles, has now recorded hits in his last two at-bats, today collecting his first RBI.

The Orioles would ultimately fall to the Twins today, 7-6, to bring their spring record to 4-6-1.

Side Notes:

Brandon Hyde still has expectations for Grayson Rodriguez. Asked about him after the game today, Hyde didn’t hold back.

“He’s got great stuff,” Hyde said. “We’re excited about him. He’s going to have big things ahead for him.”

Dean Kremer is still in camp with the Orioles. He was scheduled to throw one more bullpen session before starting Team Israel’s first game on March 12 for the World Baseball Classic.

“We just wanted him to be in front of our guys throwing one more time,” Hyde said. “Always makes you nervous when you have a pitcher going.”

Terrin Vavra was scheduled to take batting practice today, and the young, lefty utility man gave an encouraging update.

“Feel good, kept getting better,” Vavra said. “Just trying to keep treating it and make sure it’s not an issue down the road. But definitely some improvements, and I swung today, so I shouldn’t be off the field too much longer.”

John Means threw off a half mound yesterday, about 20 fastballs at about 50% effort. He also threw off flat ground and awaits medical clearance each step of the way. He is scheduled to throw on a half mound and progress to a full mound on Friday morning.

“Felt great, felt awesome,” Means said. “Kind of felt like a baseball player again yesterday. Got some dirt on my cleats, so it was great. Everything felt good.”

The O’s are back in action tomorrow from Ed Smith Stadium to take on the Pirates. Kyle Gibson gets the start against Vince Velasquez, with game time set for 1:05 p.m. EST.

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Who stood out to you today for the Birds? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!

Like Stephen’s content? Follow him on Twitter – @SRJHeckman

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