FORT MYERS, Fla. - When a pitcher who makes the trip from minor league camp is warming twice in the bullpen, it’s a sure sign that the starter’s outing isn’t running smoothly.
Nate Karns is healthy, which is the primary interest of the Orioles. He stumbled in the first inning today of his first start after missing the entire 2018 season with an elbow injury, but only in the figurative sense.
With his fastball clocked at 91-93 mph on the stadium radar gun, Karns allowed three runs (two earned) and four hits with two walks and two wild pitches in 1 2/3 innings before Tanner Chleborad replaced him.
Chleborad, included on the travel roster, began to throw in the first inning as Karns labored and got up again in the second. He entered the game after Karns walked Jason Castro on a changeup in the dirt that eluded catcher Austin Wynns.
The walk came on Karns’ 48th pitch of the day. Only 27 were strikes.
Karns threw 26 pitches in the first inning. He loaded the bases on singles by Jason Castro and Jonathan Schoop and a two-out walk to C.J. Cron, fell behind 3-0 to Byron Buxton and surrendered a two-run double off the left field fence.
The defense let down Karns in the second. Willians Astudillo’s sharp ground ball scooted through Renato Núñez’s legs at third base and shortstop Richie Martin couldn’t turn a double play after Jake Cave grounded to Jackson, his throw pulling Jace Peterson off the bag.
Brent Rooker struck out looking, but Jorge Polanco followed with an RBI single and Castro walked to bring manager Brandon Hyde to the mound.
Ortiz flashed a fastball clocked at 95-96 mph. But he also gave up a leadoff double to Eddie Rosario and run-scoring single to Buxton, who took second base on Young’s error.
Young homered with two outs in the second inning for the lone Orioles run so far. Joey Rickard singled in the third and was stranded.
Update: Ortiz allowed two runs and three hits with one strikeout in two innings and Harvey replaced him with the Orioles losing 5-1 in the fifth. Buxton hit a two-run homer on a 97 mph fastball, giving him five RBIs and increasing the lead to 7-1.
Harvey struck out Cave on a 98 mph fastball to end the inning. He allowed two runs and two hits.
Karns talked about his outing with the local media that made the trip. Here’s a sampling:
On his objective today:
“Just getting out there doing what I do, pitching to what my strengths are. And trying to improve command, execution of my pitches, sequencing and at the same time competing out there on the mound. I feel like today I kind of came in like, I may not get the results that I wanted, but that’s not what we were focused on right now. That’s getting out there and trying to figure out where you’re at and then improve between starts and try to keep going in that direction until the season gets here.”
On how he feels physically:
“I’m feeling good, feeling good. Definitely been a minute since I’ve been out there so I had a little bit of adrenaline going, but at the same time it was nice to kind of get out there and just compete, see what I have against the other team. I got some feedback and we’re going to go back in between starts and get back to work.”
On what he threw today:
“I threw everything - changeup, curveball, fastball, two-seams. Threw it all. At times they were good, at times they weren’t, but it’s the first outing of camp so I’m not taking too much out of it other than there are things I feel like I can work on between starts.”
On whether he felt like himself out there:
“Yeah, I mean, I feel like I was pretty much myself. I faced the Twins quite often in my career and I’ve had success in the past, but I felt like they knew once I got to a certain point, the curveball was coming. And I felt like I threw some really good curveballs that they just took. They were the location I wanted down and in, but that’s just something you’re going to learn, that teams are going to make the adjustment and now I’ve got to make the adjustment for the next time going back out there.”
On whether today was a milestone:
“When I toe the rubber in a regular season game, then I can say it’s a milestone. But this is just one step in that direction and we’re not quite there yet, so I’m going to keep working.”