Power Surge: Mountcastle, Hays slug Orioles to win over Pirates

One of the Orioles’ big acquisitions this off-season was veteran righty Kyle Gibson. A member of the NL World Series representative Phillies last season, Gibson brings leadership, veteran presence and playoff experience to a young Orioles squad.  

Making his second start this spring, Gibson showed why he has a chance to be part of something special this season. Gibson would pitch three scoreless innings of two-hit ball, facing one batter over the minimum. He threw 40 pitches, 23 for strikes, while allowing only two balls out of the infield. 

Gibson got some bullpen work in after his outing and worked with pitching coach Chris Holt and assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes to work on his delivery and make adjustments.

“Being able to talk to them about that and make those changes, I felt a lot better on the mound,” Gibson said. “A little bit more dynamic, a little bit more athletic and, naturally, it kind of makes everything move a little bit better and a little bit sharper. Still want to be in the zone first pitch of the at-bat, but if you’re able to battle back in the zone and win those 1-1 counts, you can kind of make up for some first-pitch balls.”

Gibson retired seven of the last eight batters he faced, retiring the last two on grounders.

“There’s a fine line of picking and choosing your time of throwing those sinkers all the time to get those ground balls,” Gibson said. “But I do feel like when I’m at my best, I’ve got multiple pitches to get ground balls. So it’s about sequencing and setting those up to put guys away.”

Cionel Pérez gave up his first run in three outings today. He faced six batters in an inning of work, allowing two hits and a walk but escaped the inning with just the one run allowed. 

Keegan Akin worked two innings, retiring six of the seven batters he faced. This was his second outing this spring, as he works to secure a long relief role in the bullpen. 

Ryan Watson followed Reed Garrett today. This was Watson’s first appearance this spring due to neck stiffness.

The O’s 2022 Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year gave up two runs off a home run. The batter hit the home run with two runners on but passed one of them, resulting in an out and only two runs scoring. 

Nolan Hoffman made his fourth appearance, collecting the save and not allowing a run, keeping his spring ERA at 0.00.

On offense, it was veterans Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle leading the way. 

Hays hit his second homer of the spring, a three-run shot. He is now 4-for-11 this spring with two homers and six RBIs. 

Mountcastle hit a rocket of a grand slam to extend the O’s lead to 7-1. On the spring, Mounty is now 5-for-15 with three doubles, a triple and a home run, while collecting seven RBIs.  

Colton Cowser was 1-for-3 on the day and also collected an outfield assist. With Cedric Mullins joining Team USA, Cowser should pick up more playing time as he fights for a roster spot. 

The Orioles offense collected nine total hits and seven runs. An oddity, especially with Rutschman and Cowser in the lineup, the Birds picked up no walks today and struck out nine times. 

The Orioles won the game, 7-4, and improved to 5-6 on the spring.

Side Notes:

D.L. Hall threw a side session today with no setbacks. He will throw a live bullpen in a few days.

Félix Bautista is scheduled to throw live batting practice in a few days, and Nick Vespi will throw a simulated game later this week. Vespi expects to be ready for Opening Day and hopes to earn a roster spot. 

Dillion Tate pitched off a half mound today and felt no pain. 

“Just saw him right now,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Feels great. Said he was really encouraged by it, how his arm feels. So we’re just going to stay with the progression he’s on and go from there.”

Terrin Vavra was cleared for full activity today. He has missed the last few games with shoulder soreness.

“Hoping for a game the next couple days,” Hyde said of Vavra’s progress. 

Eddie Murray is the special guest instructor currently in camp. He was seen talking with Ryan Mountcastle and called Adley Rutschman to join him for batting practice. 

It was announced today that the Orioles will host UMBC vs. Navy at Camden Yards on March 29. A portion of the ticket sales will be donated to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which provides housing, transportation and other services for those severely injured, wounded or ill post 9/11. 

Tyler Wells will take the mound tomorrow against the Phillies from Clearwater, Florida. Game time is 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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