DUNEDIN, Fla. - Minor league outfielder Dariel Alvarez had a chance to be a hero today for the Orioles with a homer in the top of the 10th. But Toronto scored twice off Kelvin De La Cruz in the last of the inning to beat the Birds, 4-3 in 10 innings at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
The Orioles almost lost this game in the last of the ninth. After he pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, Ryan Webb came out for the ninth leading 2-1, but Toronto greeted him four straight singles to tie the game. De La Cruz came on at that point and got out of a bases-loaded, no out jam with the help of a diving stop on a liner by shortstop Garabez Rosa and then he got a double play ball. The Rosa game-saving dive and DP ball sent this game to the tenth.
Alvarez, the Cuban-born outfielder likely headed to Double-A Bowie to start the year, then homered to left on a 1-0 pitch to give the O’s a 3-2 lead. Alvarez is now 2-for-3 in big league exhibition at-bats with a double and homer.
“Dariel, we like him,” O’s manager Buck Showalter said. “Probably as good an (outfield) arm as we have in the organization. There is something he can take from being over here. He ambushed a high fastball. I like it.”
Earlier the O’s got solid outings from Miguel Gonzalez and Alfredo Aceves. Gonzalez went four innings, throwing 73 pitches and gave up five hits and one run with no walks and three strikeouts. Aceves pitched three scoreless innings allowing four hits. Twice he stranded two runners during his outing.
“Results were good for him (Gonzalez) and Alfredo, but (windy) conditions dictated some of that too,” Showalter said. “There were some balls hit (into the wind) and you play the elements too, throwing some pitches you wouldn’t normally throw, because you are OK with a fly ball to the outfield. He and Alfredo threw the pitches they were supposed to.”
During his postgame interview, Showalter informed reporters that Tommy Hunter threw two innings today at minor league camp for the O’s Triple-A squad. He threw 34 pitches and didn’t allow a run. Showalter said he is at the point in camp where he wants some relievers to work two innings.
Adam Jones played for the first time in a week after leaving the team for the birth of his son. Jones went 1-for-2 with an infield hit and a walk. Showalter said he has some rust to knock off after being gone.
“Yeah, sure. But he is going to get a lot of at-bats from here on out and he’ll catch up in a hurry,” Showalter said. “He still has a chance to get the target. But he’s a little rusty.”
Baltimorean Steve Clevenger had an impressive afternoon at bat, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and a single. His double to left in the fourth plated Jones with the O’s first run and he scored on a Ryan Flaherty double for an early 2-0 lead.
Showalter was asked if Clevenger is starting to lock down the backup catcher’s job as the three-hit day lifted his average to .545 (12-for-22) with a homer and six RBIs.
“I don’t even look at the offense part of it,” Showalter said. “Him having two or three hits, that’s a non-factor. But he’s doing OK back there (on defense). He’s engaged with it and he knows where the job description falls. And if we get some offense from it too, then so be it.”
The Orioles fall to 10-6-1 with the loss as they head into a Monday with two games scheduled. One in the day on the road against the Phillies and one at home at night against the Twins.
With the threat of rain and possibility both could be rained out, the Orioles are sending Ubaldo Jimenez to pitch in a minor league game Monday at 11 a.m. He’ll pitch for the O’s Triple-A squad against Boston in Fort Myers. The rain chance is not as great the more south you go and Jimenez is headed to Fort Myers as the O’s really want him to get his four or five inning outing in on Monday.
“We need to give ourselves the best chance to get his innings in. That’s a priority tomorrow,” Showalter said before the game.