Orioles season opener: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

The 2023 season has officially arrived, and the Baltimore Orioles have started their campaign with a W in the win column.   

As much as we would love a 162-game winning streak, the realistic possibility is very far-fetched. So, while we bask in the glory of a 1-0 start, we must delve a little deeper and highlight the good, the bad and the ugly of yesterday’s contest. 

No win has perfection behind it, but there are things that will always have an effect on the game and even the long-term. So let’s get into the meat and potatoes and visit the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good: Offensive Production

One of the things Orioles fans were anxious to see was how the offense would perform. After a 10-run game, the offense takes home “the good” section. 

Led by all-world catcher Adley Rutschman, the offense pounded out 15 total hits, including six extra base hits.

Rutschman became the first catcher since 1901 to record five hits and reach base six times in a season-opening game. Also, no Oriole had accomplished either of those feats on Opening Day since moving to Baltimore. He homered, walked, scored a run and drove in four.   

The Orioles had five players record multiple hits, including Adam Fraizer (two doubles), who made his Orioles debut. Eight players, Austin Hays being the lone albatross, reached base at least two times, as the Orioles collected nine walks and a hit batter.

Ramón Urías hit a two-run home run, and Cedric Mullins (2), Jorge Mateo (2) and Adam Friazer (1) combined for five stolen bases. The O’s offense was on point to start the season, and this is just the beginning of what could unfold the rest of the way.   

The Bad: The Bullpen

Unfortunately for the Orioles, what was expected to be a strength for the season turned out to be a liability for the game. 

The Baltimore bullpen, which is starting the season without Dillon Tate and Mychal Givens, was expected to be the least worrisome part of the team.

While starter Kyle Gibson (1-0) pitched a decent five innings, he left with the Orioles leading 8-2, though both runners on base were charged to him.  

Those two runners would score, as Keegan Akin came in promptly and allowed a hit before striking out two batters and escaping the inning.

Bryan Baker allowed three earned runs in 0.2 innings of work, and the usually untouchable Félix Bautista allowed two runs, one earned, on two hits and a walk in the ninth before striking out Adam Duvall to end the game and pick up the save. 

Though two runs were charged to Gibson, the bullpen allowed a total of seven runs (six earned) on five hits, two walks and a hit batter in four innings of work. 

That will definitely need to change in order for the Birds to make an early push going forward. Of course, the return of Tate and Givens in a few weeks will provide a boost, but the pen needs to regroup and come out attacking like last season.  

The Ugly: The Defense

One of the underrated strengths of the 2022 season was the defense. Between gold glover Ramón Urías and finalist Cedric Mullins and Fielding Bible Award winner Jorge Mateo, the Orioles had the ninth ranked defense in defensive runs saved and seventh best in defensive rating  last season.

Adding Adam Friazer was supposed to be a boost to the infield, while James McCann would offer another solid glove at catcher, as the defense was actually supposed to improve.

To say the defense was ugly to open the season would be the last thing many fans would expect. Unfortunately, that sentiment rang true yesterday. 

Though there were two double plays turned, no stolen bases and Adam Fraizer making strong efforts on diving attempts, there were glaring mistakes that almost cost the Orioles the game.

Mateo and Mullins were both charged with fielding errors, and though an out was collected, Mateo threw the ball away on a double play attempt that would have ended the game. 

The outfield misplayed balls, took wrong angles and a play between Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays resulted in extra bases as they couldn’t field the ball before it rattled around where the tarp lays.

Mateo and Friazer had communication issues, once resulting in a run-scoring fielder’s choice. Mountcastle fielded the ball, but neither Mateo nor Friazer were in position to field the throw. Instead of an inning-ending double play, the Red Sox scored a run and had another player in scoring position, which would end up scoring on the next hit.

It was one of the main reasons the Red Sox were able to score five runs in the final two innings and turn a 10-4 lead into a 10-9 nail-biter.

Looking forward, we would expect the defense to improve drastically, the bullpen to take a big step forward and the offense to continue the focused play they opened the season with.

We will see what adjustments are made, as game two is set for Saturday at Fenway Park. Be sure to tune in and see how things turn out next game.

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What do you think of the O’s performance yesterday? 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

5 thoughts on “Orioles season opener: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

  1. Great points made. I was unaware of the ineptitude of the rest of the leagues Shortstops. I’m SHOCKED that a gold glove winning shortstop had 20 errors. Shocked!

    And Mullins …like I said,he’s good, not great. He doesn’t play the walls well, (he stinks actually) and his arm is Don Baylor-esque. As long as there are a couple of Kiermaiers and Pillars hanging around, Mullins won’t win any gold gloves. I’ll stand by grading of the guy.

    And by the way….when I can acutally understand these metrics being used nowadays …. I’ll give them some credence. Until then I’ll go by percentages and the eye test. I’m just tooooo old. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it was kind of scary. I don’t know if you saw my article on Mateo being snubbed as a finalist for shortstop Gold Gloves, but it gives a little breakdown of that. I agree with you. I still remember Cal Ripken Jr. having three errors in 162 games. That is unheard of these days, and he actually didn’t win the Gold Glove that year. It was Omar Vizquel, who if I remember had six or seven.
      Mullins’ arm is definitely around average, but he covers the field better than our other outfielders. I think Hays has the strongest arm of the group. And I agree that there are stronger CF’s in the game right now, and Mullins could be moved to left eventually.
      I do understand your comment on the sabremetics. I’m still learning myself, but if I’m writing about these guys, I needed to learn, which I’m still doing. But that’s why you also have us. We will give you the breakdown.
      I’m definitely an eye test guy. Watching the games, I get better breakdown of what I see, especially when it comes to our players.


  2. Mr. Heckman, I have to question you and so very many other fans who for over the past 2 years have touted Mateo and Mullins as ‘elite’ defenders … gold glove types. Now I agree that they both can turn in spectacular plays worthy of sportscenter, both they guys are prone to screwing the pooch on regular basis.

    To a less degree, I’d like to point out Mullins’ problem is that he gets VERY gun shy when approaching the wall. He did again Thursday. A very catchable ball…a run that shouldn’t have scored, and all because it’s of Mullin’s fear of crashing into walls. Some might say that’s a business decision as it may well be, but we’ve had a multitude of go getting wall climbing outfielders here in Charm city of the years. He’s got some range, but give me Brady, Deveraux, Blair or Finley to name but a few.

    And Mateo? Dude made 18 errors last year. That passes for ‘elite’ or special? Yeah … he can really flash at times … but he can really turn routine plays into adventures as well. Mateo is NOT a great, or I’d even say not good shortstop. He’s a trackstar…he’s no Bordick/Belanger or Aparicio type.

    C’mon guys…open your eyes. Mullins is better than most..Mateo can stink it up at times. Stop claiming they’re gold glove material.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mateo led all short stops in defensive runs saved with 11. The gold glove winner in the AL had 2 more errors in over a 150 less chances last year. All 3 finalists for gold gloves in the AL had a minimum of 80 or more less chances than Mateo, who led the league in opportunities. He actually had less errors per opportunity than the finalists. He also won the Fielding Bible Award given to best defensive shortstop.
      As for Mullins, he does not climb the wall like others, but his speed makes up for that. Unfortunately the last two games to start the season our entire outfield has looked like they are lost. Mullins might not lay out as often as others, but his speed makes up for that and gets him closer to the play than others. He has been a finalist for gold glove for 3 years straight.
      They might not be like the old school defenders but they are in the upper class of defenders in today’s game. Trust me I have many problems with today’s players versus yesterday’s, but the game is also not played like yesterday’s and unfortunately I am basing my thoughts off of today’s players.

      Liked by 1 person

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