Cashner on his “big step in the right direction” (O’s win 14-1, updated)

LAKELAND, Fla. - Andrew Cashner retired the last 12 batters that he faced today. The Orioles sent 11 to the plate in the fifth inning, with Dwight Smith Jr. collecting two singles. They received back-to-back triples from Jonathan Villar and Trey Mancini.

Just another day in spring training.

Cashner got on a nice roll after Mikie Mahtook singled to lead off the bottom of the second inning. He filled up the strike zone and did his finest work while holding the Tigers to one run in five innings.

Smith added a two-run homer in the seventh and Zach Vincej delivered an RBI single to increase the Orioles’ lead to 9-1.

Fifty-seven of Cashner’s 78 pitches were strikes and he had plenty of swings and misses along the way while changing speeds and keeping the Tigers off balance. He allowed three hits, walked none and struck out five.

“I thought it kind of finally all came together today,” he said. “I thought I slowed my pace down a little bit. Thought the biggest thing was made an adjustment out of the bullpen, keeping my chin quiet.

andrew-cashner-side-gray.jpg“I thought I spun the ball a lot better today. Kind of made some tweaks with my curveball. Kind of got a little late start on the curveball. Just didn’t feel right in the beginning. Hadn’t thrown it much and I thought today was big progress with that.”

Nicholas Castellanos hit an opposite-field home run and Miguel Cabrera singled in the first inning, but Cashner struck out three batters. Of the last nine that he faced, only one got the ball out of the infield.

“I didn’t really want to throw that pitch right there, but after the first - I think I threw four pitches - I was just trying to get ahead there,” Cashner said. “He likes to go to right field, but I thought after that I really commanded the four-seam both sides of the plate. I thought my changeup got a lot better as the game went along and I thought my curveball got a lot better as the game went along.”

The Orioles executed the always popular 9-6 putout at second base in the second inning after Drew Jackson, making his first start in right field, couldn’t come up with Jordy Mercer’s sinking liner. Jackson retrieved the ball and got the force.

Cashner didn’t need much help today. He retired the side in order on 11 pitches in the third - 10 of them strikes - 14 in the fourth and 14 in the fifth. Nate Karns began to warm in the top of the fifth, but Cashner came back out.

“I told him (manager Brandon Hyde) I was ready to go today,” said Cashner, who allowed eight runs and 12 hits in 8 1/3 innings before facing the Tigers. “I thought today was a big step in the right direction as far as all my pitches coming together.”

The Orioles didn’t get a hit off Jordan Zimmermann until Chance Sisco’s one-out single to right field in the fourth inning. Zimmermann hit Alcides Escobar and walked Villar in the third.

Singles by Smith and Hanser Alberto and a Jackson walk loaded the bases with one out in the fifth and Villar cleared them with a triple into the right field corner. Pinch-runner Jace Peterson scored on Mancini’s triple and Ryan Mountcastle lined a single up the middle.

Karns struck out the side in the sixth and retired the first batter he faced in the seventh on a liner to Jackson. Castro has replaced him.

Karns hadn’t gone more than one inning since working 1 2/3 in his spring debut Feb. 25 against the Twins in Fort Myers.

Update: The Orioles added three more runs in the eighth, with Vincej and Peterson contributing RBI singles to increase the lead to 12-1.

Update II: Andrew Susac’s RBI double in the ninth made it 13-1. Cael Brockmeyer had a RBI single to increase the lead to 14-1 and give the Orioles 18 hits.

Final update: Mychal Givens retired the side in order in the ninth to complete a 14-1 win. Orioles pitching faced only three batters over the minimum and the bullpen didn’t allow a baserunner over four frames.

Hyde on Cashner: “Cash was outstanding. All of our pitchers. No walks on the day in spring training? Cash working ahead, really good four-seamer today. Kept his velocity through the five innings, which is fantastic. Off-speed stuff for strikes, was aggressive, attacked hitters. Great to see Mychal Givens throw the ball like that in the end there. Mid-to-upper 90s fastball and some really good changeups. So a lot of really positive things from the pitching side today.”

Hyde whether Karns’ outings will get longer: “We’re going to wait and see. We just wanted to get him back out for an out after a full inning and we’re going to reevaluate here as we go along.”

Hyde on how Cashner’s efficiency bodes well for third time through order: “What was the score at the time? So 6-1. There a lot of variables the third time through the order statistic, but I thought Cash was actually getting stronger as the game was going on and that plays into it, too. He was keeping his velo. Threw a ton of four-seamers today that had hop and life at the end. Getting by guys, hitting spots. He threw the ball really well.”

Hyde on Jackson in right: “He’s going to continue to get opportunities in different spots and that reason is when you’re used to playing center or play an unnatural position, you can take all the live balls off the bat you want in BP and do drills, but it’s different in the game. That’s why I just want to continue to move guys around and continue to expose them to stuff so that if it happens in a game that matters that they’re not surprised by it.”

Jackson on playing right field: “I felt good. Nice to get a look out there. The first ball to me was a funky one, but I was able to recover and get the guy out at second. It felt comfortable.”

Jackson on whether it’s strange moving to different positions: “No, it’s fun. I like it. It makes baseball more exciting when you go out there and you get a new look from a different position every day. When you’re a kid you always wonder what it’s like to play a different position. I was always a shortstop. Now I’ve got to go around at see what I’ve got at every position.”

Jackson on how many gloves he brought to camp: “I think I have five. I’m about to order a couple more, probably. I pretty much use the same infielder’s glove around the diamond. I always have a couple of backups, too.”

Jackson on whether first base coach/outfield instructor Arnie Beyeler talked to him after first ball: “No, just good recovery, positive stuff. With the wind it was kind of howling towards the right field line, I’ve just got to be a little more aggressive towards that one. You learn. That’s what spring training’s for. That’s what getting my reps in right field is for, see how balls are hit coming off guy’s bats. With more experience, the better I’ll get.”

Jackson on whether it’s hard trying to make the team offensively while multi-tasking: “I always try to separate hitting and defense. I pride myself on that. I don’t think so. I’ve approached every day the same. Just go in wherever they put me, my head down and go to work at the plate and stick with my routine, try to hit balls hard.”

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