SARASOTA, Fla. - The door remained open for Mike Wright Jr. to claim the fifth starter’s job. It seemed to widen with disappointing outings last night from Miguel Castro and Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes Jr. A solid showing today against the Red Sox might have decided the outcome.
Wright retired the side in order in the first inning on only 11 pitches, but he threw 30 in the second while allowing four runs and four hits and walking a batter. Chris Vázquez homered, and Iván De Jesús Jr. and Mookie Betts had RBI doubles. The type of unraveling that Wright has worked so hard to avoid.
With his spring high consisting of 4 2/3 innings in his last start, Wright fell an out short of matching it today against the Red Sox and was charged with seven runs (six earned) and 10 hits. He walked two batters, struck out four and threw a wild pitch.
Rule 5 pick Pedro Araujo stranded two runners for Wright, who threw 89 pitches, 55 for strikes, in 4 1/3 innings. Wright fell behind 3-1 to three of the first six batters.
Wright has allowed 15 runs (14 earned) and 26 hits in 19 innings in his six appearances. Everything seemed to be falling in against him today, whether hard or soft.
Two of the four strikeouts came in a tidy first inning against Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. But the Red Sox erupted in the second, added an unearned run in the third on two singles, a wild pitch and Chance Sisco’s throwing error, and chased Wright in the fifth.
J.D. Martinez tripled to score Eduardo Núñez after a leadoff single. Sam Travis walked with one out, Blake Swihart poked an RBI single to center field and Araujo entered the game.
Sisco hit an opposite-field two-run homer off Hector Velázquez in the bottom of the fifth to reduce the lead to 7-4.
Tim Beckham had a two-run shot in the second and came out of the game in the top of the third, with Danny Valencia replacing him at third base. No word from the Orioles on the reason behind the switch. Beckham walked to the clubhouse without an athletic trainer.
Earlier today, former Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts talked about his upcoming induction into the club’s Hall of Fame. Here’s a sampling:
On what comes to mind when reflecting on career: “I don’t even know where to start. June 14, 2001, I guess, is a good place to start. I can remember walking into (manager) Mike Hargrove’s office and he said, ‘You’re playing short and batting second and don’t be nervous.’ And it was all downhill from there. But so many memories.
“Camden Yards certainly is a fond place for me, and the fans. Everyone who gave me so much support and my family so much support over the years. I just feel blessed to have the opportunity to be alongside so many great Orioles and just felt incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to play so long in Baltimore and be a part of a community for that long.”
On whether it seems that long ago: “Everything feels like a long time ago right now. 2001 seems like a long time ago, but on the other hand, it seems like yesterday. Life goes so fast and you try to soak it all in and you try to understand what it means at the time, but I don’t think you do because it’s just happening so fast. So, I try to tell these guys all the time it goes way faster than you could ever imagine.
“I talked to Adam Jones a lot. When he came over, he was just a young kid trying to figure it all out and you realize he’s been here 10 or 11 years, it’s just crazy how fast it all happens. I enjoyed it and I wish I could go back and do it again, for sure.”
On how he expects induction night to go: “Hopefully fast. I know nobody really wants to hear anybody talk, so we’ll get up there and get it over with quick. But I did see a lot of them and a lot of the guys I saw I actually was teammates with at some point. I got to see the B.J. Surhoffs and the Mike Bordicks get inducted and it’s just a really special honor to be beside those guys. Guys who mentored me and helped me get to this place today.
“I had so many incredible veterans who took me under their wing and kind of showed me the ropes and treated me like their son almost at times. I’m excited. Just overwhelmed a little bit still at this point.”
On team finally winning after he’s done playing: “I’m so happy for these guys that they’ve enjoyed that success because losing was not a lot of fun. I wouldn’t wish 10 years of losing on anybody. But I still certainly have no regrets about my career when it comes to the timeframe of it because I enjoyed every day of it.”
On the lack of true leadoff hitters today: “I think it has changed, for sure. The game has changed tremendously in the last 15 years anyway, when you look at all the analytics and you look at the shifting and you look at the emphasis on different kinds of stats than there used to be. You hear (Yankees manager) Aaron Boone talk about leading off Aaron Judge. That’s like, ‘Wow.’
“I don’t know what the game necessarily dictates now anymore of what people want at the top of their order. I think when I came up there was kind of that ideal of what you were looking for in a leadoff man and may I had some phases of my career where I fit into that mold, but I don’t know, if I was playing today would I be leading off? I have no idea what people would do with me know. And that’s the interesting part of the way the game evolves and I think it’s a great part of the way the game continues to evolve because there’s no right way to do it.”