Hammel and more from Ripken (Flaherty with walk-off homer)

SARASOTA, Fla. - There’s a strong wind blowing out to left field, which makes it a typical day here at Ed Smith Stadium. And pretty much every ballpark in the state of Florida.

I’m not sure exactly how that works, but I’ve witnessed the same thing in Dunedin, Bradenton, Port Charlotte, Fort Myers ... you name it.

Mike Wright surrendered a run in the fifth inning and Toronto catcher Henry Blanco homered on the first pitch thrown by Daniel McCutchen in the sixth - a routine fly ball carrying over the left field fence.

McCutchen gave up two runs in the sixth, and the Orioles’ lead is down to 6-4.

Jason Hammel met with reporters after allowing one run and five hits, with four strikeouts, in 2 1/3 innings.

“I was up in the zone, gave up a few hits today on counts - I was ahead in the count and ended up getting back in. That was disappointing,” Hammel said. “Other than that, all pitches are pretty close to where they need to be. Two-seamer, I’m pretty proud of, ahead of pace for me. Other than that, you know, maybe a little better on that hit at the end of the second inning. We’ve still got a long way to go.”

Hammel said he needs to keep working on his fastball.

“Want to stay on top of the two-seamer,” he said. “I’ll make sure that’s where it needs to be, because that was a huge help last year. Changeup, I’ve been working on, too, but just throwing strikes and getting ahead of guys, I’ve been able to do that so far.”

Hammel no longer wears a brace on his right knee. It’s “a thing of the past,” he said.

“I don’t even think about that anymore.”

OK, back to Cal Ripken Jr., who’s signing copies of his new children’s book, “Wild Pitch,” that was written with Sun columnist Kevin Cowherd.

It must seem a little strange for Ripken to be introduced as “author” ahead of anything related to baseball. That’s what happened today at the ballpark before he threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

“I try not to take that too seriously,” he said. “The author part, Kevin Cowherd and I, it’s important to keep the voice for me through the book. Kevin does a great job of getting the characters and really bringing them to life.

“The first book, it seemed like we were going back and forth, exchanging the different chapters and talking about every one. The second book got a little easier. The third book, it almost seems like we’re thinking on the same page and it went a whole lot smoother.”

A fourth book will come out next year titled “Squeeze Play,” which focuses on parents’ poor behavior at their kids’ games. About 20 chapters have been written.

“It’s an issue that we’d like to tackle,” Ripken said. “We haven’t figure out the fifth or sixth ones yet. We’re open to suggestions.

“I see it as an opportunity to communicate a message. And in many ways as a baseball player you’re thrown out there as a role model. You have a platform in which to influence kids positively. This is just an extension of that. I’d love to make it a series that goes way more than six books.”

Game update: McCutchen allowed three runs in the seventh inning, the last two on Jim Negrych’s two-out double that gave Toronto a 7-6 lead. Kenny Wilson had an RBI single before Negrych’s at-bat.

McCutchen hadn’t permitted a run in three appearances spanning 3 1/3 innings this spring. Today, he surrendered five runs and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Today’s attendance: 7,465. That’s a sellout.

Update II: Trayvon Robinson’s two-run double off Blue Jays left-hander Evan Crawford in the seventh inning gave the Orioles an 8-7 lead.

Luis Exposito led off with a double, making him 6-for-12 this spring, and Yamaico Navarro walked before Robinson batted.

Update III: Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland gave up a run in the eighth to tie the game, 8-8.
Adam Russell will pitch the ninth.

Toronto is out-hitting the Orioles, 17-8. Those two errors in the third inning were killer.

Update IV: Exposito’s throwing error allowed Kenny Wilson to score, and a wild pitch by Adam Russell accounted for another run, as the Blue Jays took a 10-8 lead in the ninth.

Wilson broke late for third as Ryan Goins took ball four, and Exposito fired the ball into left field.

Maybe Wilson thought there were runners on first and second, since he basically was trotting to third base.

Update V: The Orioles were down to their last strike when Ryan Flaherty hit a three-run homer of Neil Wagner.

Orioles 11, Blue Jays 10.

That’s the first walk-off home run for the Orioles this spring.

The inning began with Yamaico Navarro being hit by a pitch. Chris Dickerson singled with one out and Danny Valencia flied out to set the stage for Flaherty, who got ahead, 3-0, took two strikes and unloaded on Wagner.

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