Cashner examines his first start (O’s win 7-5)

SARASOTA, Fla. - The second pitch thrown today by Andrew Cashner in his spring debut nailed Tigers leadoff hitter JaCoby Jones.

The fourth was lined into left field for a single.

The 12th disappeared over the right field fence for a three-run homer.

If Cashner is siphoning anything positive out of the start, he can cite his health, how he plowed through the Tigers split-squad lineup in the second and retired the first two batters in the third, and how he’s been stretched out to three innings.

The Tigers strung together three straight two-out hits in the third, the last an RBI double by Danny Peterson that increased their lead to 4-0. Cashner allowed six hits, walked none and struck out three.

Cashner-Mound-White-sidebar.jpg“I thought, you definitely get excited back, first time out,” he said. “I thought I spun the ball really well. Something I’ve been working on, more slider strikes instead of balls. Changeup had good depth. I’ve just got to get my four-seam, get more extension.”

Niko Goodrum’s home run came on a 91 mph fastball after Cashner hit Jones and Danny Woodrow singled. Brandon Dixon struck out on a 92 mph fastball, but Peterson singled to extend the inning. Cashner was worked for 21 pitches, but 16 were strikes.

“I thought it was a good pitch,” Cashner said of the fastball to Goodrum. “Winnie (catcher Austin Wynns) said he thought it was a good pitch, but I’ll look at it on video. I think it might have been up a little bit too much, but it’s just something I’ve got to work on, working the fastball both sides of the plate.”

Cashner threw 15 pitches in the second and 18 in the third to leave his total at 54, including 37 strikes. He wasn’t nibbling.

Luis Ysla warmed twice in the bullpen but wasn’t needed.

Two of Cashner’s three strikeouts came in the second as he tackled the bottom of the Tigers’ order. He began the third with a ground ball and fly ball before the Tigers strung together three straight hits.

While other starters have been restricted to two innings in their debuts, Cashner was given an extra push from the dugout.

“I think I threw three innings in a sim game the other day,” he said. “I feel like with my workload I’m ready for it.”

Health was an issue for Cashner last season, including the knee injury that shut him down in September. He vowed to take better care of himself, incorporating a new exercise routine.

“My neck’s been an issue the last few years,” he said, “but I feel like a lot more mobility stuff I did this offseason, a lot more yoga, a lot more stretching, just trying to put myself and my body in a better position.

“My knee’s been great. I felt like once I got past the end of November, my body felt great and I haven’t had any problems so far.”

Austin Hays hit his second home run, pulling a fastball from Matthew Boyd that was up and away to reduce the lead to 4-1 in the third. Anthony Santander clubbed a game-tying, three-run homer off Victor Alcantara in the fourth, but Branden Kline surrendered his first run of the spring in the fifth on two singles and a wild pitch.

Goodrum picked up his fourth RBI of the day.

Santander doubled and Jonathan Villar walked after Hays’ home run, but Boyd retired the next three batters without another run scoring. He got a called third strike on Chris Davis with the count full.

Davis fell behind 1-2 in the first and struck out swinging, a breaking ball eluding his bat with room to spare. He grounded out in his last at-bat and is 1-for-12 with a home run, two walks and seven strikeouts this spring.

Villar led off the bottom of the first inning with a single and stole second base. Wynns drew a leadoff walk in the second, but was doubled off first base when Boyd deflected Alcides Escobar’s liner with his glove and snatched the ball with his bare hand before it hit the ground.

Christopher Bostick replaced Villar after the third inning, an early exit that will be explored after the game.

Tanner Scott retired the side in order in the fourth on three ground balls.

Update: Anthony Santander doulbed again in the seventh and scored on Joey Rickard’s single to tie the game 5-5.

Update II: Ryan Mountcastle led off the eighth with a single off left-hander Gregory Soto and moved up on a wild pitch and passed ball. Andrew Susac and DJ Stewart walked and Mountcastle scored on Drew Jackson’s fly ball to break a 5-5 tie.

T.J. Nichting followed with an RBI single to give the Orioles a 7-5 lead.

Final update: Cody Carroll got three fly ball outs in the ninth. Orioles 7, Tigers 5.

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