SARASOTA, Fla. - Making his first spring start today, left-hander T.J. McFarland struck out four of the first eight batters who stepped to the plate.
That’s the good.
McFarland gave up three runs and four hits over the first two innings, including a long two-run homer to Boston’s No. 9 hitter, Christian Vazquez. He surrendered three consecutive singles to open the third that moved the Red Sox ahead 4-3.
That’s the bad.
McFarland has been charged with four runs and seven hits in three innings, with no walks and four strikeouts. He’s thrown 54 pitches, 34 for strikes.
McFarland hasn’t gone more than three innings in any of his previous seven appearances this spring.
The Orioles fell behind 3-0 before Wilson Betemit launched a three-run homer over the center field fence in the bottom of the second inning following a Chris Davis single and J.J. Hardy double. Betemit had a two-run double yesterday in Bradenton.
McFarland did a nice job of limiting the damage in the third after the three singles - the last a wind-blown fly ball from Will Middlebrooks that right field Ryan Flaherty couldn’t corral. Mike Napoli stopped at second base, and McFarland stranded both runners.
The Orioles took a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the third, as the wind continues to baffle both teams.
Adam Jones hit his first home run, and collected only his second hit in 20 at-bats. Matt Wieters and Davis reached on infield hits, and Hardy followed with a fly ball to left that turned into a ground-rule double on Jonny Gomes’ misplay.
Gomes isn’t exactly a Gold Glover in the best of conditions. Exposing him to swirling winds is just piling on.
Betemit drove in his fourth run of the day with a sacrifice fly while also proving that fly balls can, indeed, be caught here.
Betemit has matched his RBI total for the entire spring.
Instant update: McFarland is done after 3 2/3 innings. He allowed four runs and eight hits, with no walks and five strikeouts. Unofficially, he threw 65 pitches, 42 for strikes.
McFarland had turned in three straight scoreless appearances in relief before today’s start.
Update II: The Orioles have hit four home runs today, including the first two from Adam Jones this spring.
Jones and Wieters went back-to-back in the bottom of the fourth. Gomes couldn’t find Jones’ ball until it cleared the fence for a two-run shot. I can’t find any reason to pay Gomes $10 million, but that’s a separate topic.
Wieters’ ball hit the batters eye in center field.
Orioles 9, Red Sox 4.