DUNEDIN, Fla. - Most pitchers will tell you that velocity doesn’t really matter this early in camp.
Jair Jurrjens isn’t like most pitchers this spring, and he didn’t downplay the 93-mph fastball he threw in the second inning. In fact, he was ready to celebrate it.
“It shows how hard I worked this offseason,” Jurrjens said after allowing one run and two hits, and walking a batter, in two innings. “I think last year, I can count how many times I hit 93 in the whole season. For the first game in spring training, to go out and throw 93 the first game, for me it was a really big accomplishment.”
Asked if the radar gun reading surprised him, Jurrjens replied, “I was more happy than surprised. It just shows that when you really dedicate and put some time into your work in the offseason, it pays off. And it’s paying off so far.
“I felt good. My timing’s coming back. I still need to work on the slider. The timing’s a little bit off on that. But I felt really good. The ball’s coming out like I want it to. I’m keeping the ball down. That’s the main thing.”
Jurrjens, whose fastball mostly sat at 89-90 mph, was the first Orioles pitcher to throw two innings in two exhibition games. Pitching coach Rick Adair alerted him to the possibility.
“I was mentally prepared for that,” Jurrjens said.
Jurrjens retired the first five batters before a single, walk and Mark DeRosa’s RBI single produced a run.
“I just think I started rushing a little bit,” he said. “Like I said, sometimes my timing comes and goes in the second inning after two hitters. I tried to work on my pitches and got myself into some trouble, and then after that when I got in the stretch, I lost my timing and started messing up a little bit.
“I’m going to keep working, building strength and just building strength not only for spring training but for the whole season. I’m going to keep doing the program we’ve been doing, and I hope it keeps working and I keep getting stronger.”
Steve Pearce has a two-run homer and RBI single today to account for all of the Orioles’ scoring in a 3-3 game. We’re headed to the top of the eighth after Mike Belfiore retired all six batters he faced.
Danny Valencia has a single and double, and Lew Ford has singled twice.
Valencia fielded a ground ball by DeRosa in the fifth inning, stepped on the bag and threw home to cut down pinch-runner Adam Loewen, the former Orioles pitcher.
Daniel Schlereth gave up a single, walked a batter and hit a batter in the fifth, but he didn’t allow a run.
Daniel McCutchen was scheduled to pitch Monday against the New York Yankees, but he tossed a scoreless fourth inning today, allowing a hit and walking a batter.
Ryan Flaherty looked exceptional at shortstop. On one play, he ranged deep in the hole to make a backhanded stop and threw across his body for the out.
Alexi Casilla, leading off today, struck out in all three plate appearances before Yamaico Navarro replaced him.
Nolan Reimold went 0-for-3 in his first game since last April.
“It felt good to get back out there,” he said. “Had fun. Still have some work to do. First game in a long time. Feels good to be out there.
“Not nervous. More excited. Happy to step in the box again. It’s been a long time - 10 months, I think it’s been - since I had an at-bat. I just felt good to have it behind me.”
Reimold was patient at the plate, working the count while grounding out, popping up and striking out.
“I need to see some pitches,” he said. “It wasn’t necessarily my game plan. I wanted to get some swings in, too. I’m glad I saw some pitches. Every day, it’ll get better, get more comfortable in the box.”
Reimold was disappointed that manager Buck Showalter didn’t play him in Saturday’s exhibition opener against the Minnesota Twins.
“I want to play whenever he puts me in there,” Reimold said. “I think the plan is to take me a little bit slow, but gradually progressing, but that’s what he does with everybody. If he did put me in there every game, I would be able to do it, physically, but I don’t think that’s the plan.”
Kevin Gausman is warming in the Orioles’ bullpen and will pitch the bottom of the eighth inning.
Update: Back-to-back doubles by Trayvon Robinson and Jason Pridie in the top of the eighth gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead.
Update II: Navarro singled in the eighth to increase the Orioles’ lead to 5-3, but Toronto scored once off Gausman in the bottom half.
Gausman’s fastball topped out at 98 mph, and he routinely hit 96-97. He also mixed in a nasty changeup, getting a strikeout with it to end the inning.
Gausman issued a leadoff walk, and Ryan Schimpf doubled to right field with one out. Kevin Ahrens followed with a sacrifice fly.
Gausman threw 18 pitches, 10 for strikes. His velocity is impressive, especially for this time of the year. Mix in an 83-mph changeup, and he presents quite a challenge.
Update III: Gausman returned for the bottom of the ninth and got a called third strike on a 98 mph fastball and a fly ball on an 85 mph changeup. Loewen drew a walk, and Gausman came out of the game.
Gausman threw 33 pitches, 20 for strikes.
Rob Delaney gave up a single before recording the final out in a 5-4 victory.