DUNEDIN, Fla. – Sometimes in spring training games a pitcher could be working on something new or trying to add his repertoire. O’s right-hander Austin Voth did that today as the Orioles faced the Toronto Blue Jays.
Toronto hit two-run homers in the sixth and seventh off right-hander Mike Baumann as the Blue Jays beat the Orioles 8-6.
The O's rallied in the ninth on Connor Norby's RBI single and Heston Kjerstad's 105 mph RBI double, but fall to 5-8-2. They host Boston tomorrow with right-hander Grayson Rodriguez on the mound.
Voth, who allowed two runs and three hits in 2 2/3 innings, threw a sweeper for the second time this spring today. It’s a pitch with big movement that often breaks the width of the plate. Per Statcast, his sweeper today sat right between his cutter and curveball in velocity. The sweeper averaged 83.2 mph with his cutter at 89.2 and curve at 77.9 mph.
“This is the second outing that I started throwing a sweeper,” Voth said outside the Baltimore clubhouse. “I want to incorporate that a bit more. I know that is going to be a big pitch for me down the road. And then, backdoor cutters to lefties and also throwing it frontdoor as well. Just trying to get a better feel for my spin right now.”
This pitch, new in games for Voth, had its origins in bullpen sessions late in the 2022 season.
“The sweeper, I started throwing that last year towards the end of the season. I mean, Holty (pitching coach Chris Holt) came to me and they saw this one curveball I threw a certain way. They said you can get the same horizontal results on your curveball if you just change your grip to this grip. I started working on it in pens and had a little bit of success in my bullpens.
"So, now I have a curveball that has depth and a curveball that has horizontal run. So, just another pitch that you know a hitter has to think about in the back of their mind. I can throw it in to lefties and down and away to righties and then with the curve off of my fastball up they see something up and think it’s a fastball but then it has that good break down in the zone.”
After his strong pitching last year, Voth’s got a leg up it would seem on claiming a roster spot on the O’s staff, as a starter or in the bullpen. But he also does have an ERA of 8.22 in three outings, allowing seven runs and 10 hits over 7 2/3 innings.
Voth was asked if he felt pressure to win a roster spot?
“No, you know, for the past couple of years I’ve always come in trying to make it as a starter. Right now I am going to continue to progress and work on my pitches. I know that it’s going be a tough decision for the manager and the Orioles, but I am happy with my results so far. Just trying to keep on progressing and do my thing.
“I like starting more, because I have the freedom of a routine going into the game. Sometimes as reliever you get a bit rushed. So I definitely like having my same routine, throwing every five days. I definitely prefer being a starter."
Today Voth walked three and fanned none, throwing 54 pitches, 33 for strikes. He stranded the bases loaded in a 24-pitch first, but gave up single runs in the second and third before Reed Garrett relieved him.
“I battled. You know, ran my pitch count up in the first inning and a little bit more in the second. You know, I didn’t have my best stuff. What I do best is throw fastballs up in the zone with good command and throw my curveball off of that. I was having a bit of a hard time with that, but was able to grind and get through those innings with what I had today.”
O’s skipper Brandon Hyde said Voth threw “extremely well.” And after his season for the Orioles last year is not concerned at all about his spring stats.
“I’m not worried about his spring ERA honestly,” said Hyde. “It’s more for him getting in game shape. What he did for us last year was incredible. … We’ll continue to stretch him out. Whether it’s going to be a long relief role or a starter role, we’re keeping our options open with him because he’s so valuable.”
The Orioles scored the game’s first run in the top of the second off Toronto right-hander Chris Bassitt, who allowed three runs in three innings. Right fielder Franchy Cordero doubled to left and scored on a two-out double to left off the bat of Daz Cameron. His second spring RBI put the O’s ahead. Cordero, who began the day 7-for-18 at bat, went 3-for-3 and drove in two runs to raise his spring average to .476.
The Orioles took a 4-2 lead to the last of the sixth after Cameron’s RBI grounder but Toronto scored four to lead 6-4 with George Springer’s two-run homer to right off Baumann breaking the 4-4 tie. An inning later an Orelvis Martinez two-run shot made it an 8-4 lead.
Baumann was charged with four hits and six runs in two innings, raising his spring ERA to 10.29 in seven spring innings.
“Really two different outings," Hyde said. "Really good for the first four or five hitters and then two-strike, two-out walk leads to him being in a fight there with (Santiago) Espinal. Broken bat single and a homer. That happens with these guys, if you give them any sort of error, they capitalize on it and Mike’s got to understand that. A two-strike, two-out walk can’t happen.”
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