Peterson’s pigskin performance proved positive

The versatility that Jace Peterson brings to the Orioles extends further than your typical utility player. He can start at any position except catcher and also blitz the opposing pitcher if given the signal.

Steal a base, sack a starter. Just turn him loose. He’ll figure it out.

Baseball wasn’t the extent of Peterson’s athletic prowess at McNeese State. Besides setting the school record for stolen bases with 78 in three seasons, he also was a defensive back/linebacker on the football team.

Looked like a pretty good one, too.

I checked out some video of Peterson yesterday, the gridiron version, and saw him lining up tight on the receiver, blitzing and laying hits on the quarterback. Saw him stuffing the run after drifting across the line. Saw him dropping back in coverage and breaking up passes. Saw him forcing fumbles.

Thumbnail image for orioles-opening-day-lineup.jpgFootball was given serious consideration on the professional level before the Padres selected him with the 58th overall pick in the 2011 draft. His decision was made.

“I had workouts to do, but once I said, ‘Yes, I want to go into baseball,’ and I actually got drafted, the workouts never happened. I couldn’t do them,” he said.

Multiple teams, including the Saints and Patriots, extended invitations to Peterson during his junior year.

“Once I got drafted, I never got to do them,” he said. “But I enjoyed football and loved my time at McNeese State.”

In the Cowboys’ 4-2-5 defensive scheme, Peterson played weak safety and cornerback and would roll down the box to outside linebacker against the run.

“It was good,” he said.

It also was risky for a guy listed at 6 feet and 215 lbs. Seems safer to be a hard hitter in the batter’s box.

Peterson made only three appearances in the majors before last night, the most recent coming on April 16. He started twice against the Orioles on April 8-9 and went 3-for-9 with a walk.

He also made a terrific catch in left field. Must seem a little awkward now that he’s with the club.

Feel guilty?

“A little bit now,” he said, laughing. “No, it was fun to get out there and play left field at Yankee Stadium against Baltimore. We had some good games and I was able to make some plays. But now that I’m in this situation, I regret it a little bit. But it’s all good and fun.”

In 386 career games before last night, Peterson registered a .240 average against right-handers and a .207 average against lefties. In his first at-bat as an Oriole, he stroked a two-run, tie-breaking double off Rays right-hander Jake Faria in the bottom of the second inning.

Most of Petersons’ experience has come as a leadoff hitter, where he’s started in 96 games and posted a .250/.335/.389 slash line in 388 at-bats.

Peterson is 2-for-13 lifetime at Camden Yards, 1-for-10 with five strikeouts at Fenway Park, 3-for-17 at Rogers Centre and 0-for-6 at Tropicana Field. He’s now 1-for-15 lifetime against the Rays.

Last night marked his first multi-RBI game since Sept. 7, 2017 against the Marlins.

The Padres called up Peterson for the first time on April 25, 2014 to replaced injured third baseman Chase Headley.

Peterson’s first career home run was a grand slam off Marlins right-hander Mat Latos on May 16, 2015 while playing for the Braves, who acquired him in a six-player trade with the Padres.

Peterson’s wife, Brianna, played soccer at the University of Oregon. Her sister, Mallory Pugh, plays for the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League and the United States women’s national soccer team. She played on the 2016 Olympic team in Rio de Janeiro.

Favorite foods and movies will appear in a later blog entry.

The rotation hasn’t undergone any real changes following Tuesday’s postponement. Alex Cobb and Dylan Bundy were pushed back to the last two games of the Rays series. Chris Tillman starts Friday night against the Tigers, followed by Andrew Cashner on Saturday and Kevin Gausman on Sunday.

Cobb took the loss again last night and is 0-3 with a 13.11 ERA, 2.83 WHIP and .484 average against in 11 2/3 innings.

“It’s the toughest thing I’ve had to do as a big leaguer,” he said. “Just feel like you’re behind and going turbo speed to kind of catch back up with everybody. Just knowing that you’re doing too much versus the right amount is tough and you can throw until your arm falls off between starts to make up for that time you miss and it ends up hurting you there in the end, too.

“This is tough, but got to find a way to get it going and get it going quick. I know I will. It’s hard to see from the outside because nobody knows me and nobody has really seen me go through struggles in the past. But I know when I have the ball what I can do with it. Just a matter of getting there.”

Bundy hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of his five starts this season. He’s surrendered five earned runs (eight total), walked nine batters and struck out 40 in 31 2/3 innings, and former Oriole Steve Pearce has the only home run off him.

Right-handers are batting .094 against Bundy, but left-handers are 21-for-65 (.323).

Bundy has a 6.26 ERA and 1.500 WHIP in six career appearances (five starts) against the Rays. He’s allowed 19 runs and 30 hits with 33 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings.

Brad Miller is 2-for-8 with a home run against Bundy. No one else on the current roster has more than seven at-bats.

Chris Archer is off to a brutal start with a 6.59 ERA and 1.463 WHIP in five outings. He’s surrendered 20 earned runs (21 total) and 30 hits in 27 1/3 innings.

Archer was better in his most recent start against the Twins with two runs and four hits allowed over 6 2/3 innings.

Left-handers are hitting .368 against Archer and right-handers are hitting .176.

In 17 games against the Orioles, Archer has gone 5-8 with a 4.81 ERA and 1.416 WHIP over 95 1/3 innings. He made four starts against them last summer and went 2-2 with a 5.91 ERA and 1.547 WHIP in 21 1/3 innings.

Archer hasn’t fared well at Camden Yards, going 1-5 with a 6.69 ERA and 1.817 WHIP in seven games (six starts) over 36 1/3 innings.

Pedro Álvarez will be the designated hitter tonight. He’s 6-for-17 with three doubles and two home runs against Archer. The right-hander can avoid Jonathan Schoop, who’s 10-for-27 with two doubles and three home runs.

Chris Davis is 7-for-28 with two doubles, three home runs, nine RBIs, nine walks and 15 strikeouts.

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