Did anyone pick him in the pool?
How many people remembered that he was still in camp?
Ynoa was the fourth pitcher used by manager Brandon Hyde in today’s 4-2 win and he blanked the Red Sox on one hit. He walked none and struck out three.
“I was not really expecting to go four innings today,” Ynoa said through interpreter Ramón Alarcón, “but they gave me the opportunity and I went ahead with it and took advantage of the opportunity.”
Starter Andrew Cashner was removed after 1 2/3 innings, which created more space for Ynoa to work.
“We had him scheduled for multiple innings, but he was so efficient with his pitches,” Hyde said. “Cash had another inning or two left and Ynoa picked us up with some innings because he was throwing strikes and getting some early contact. He pitched outstanding. Really nice four innings by him.”
Largely ignored in discussions about the rotation or bullpen, Ynoa has allowed one run and three hits over eight innings this spring. He still hasn’t issued a walk.
“I’ve been working a lot in the bullpen, especially with my pitching coach (Doug Brocail) to be aggressive, to stay aggressive, not fall behind,” he said. “I think that has been the key for me so far.”
Is Ynoa doing enough to possibly force himself onto the 25-man roster after the Orioles re-signed him over the winter to a minor league deal?
“Those decisions are really not up to me,” he said. “It falls under the team. My job is to go out there, work hard, try to put the team in the best possible scenario and just help them out.”
Ynoa didn’t pitch in the majors last season due to shoulder and leg injuries, but Hyde is familiar with him from the right-hander’s stint with the Mets.
“I actually saw him in New York two or three years ago, so I remember him,” Hyde said. “He’s been impressive. He really attacks hitters. He’s unpredictable, like we’ve talked about. His slider is really good and he’s got a really good sinker.”
Renato Núñez hit his second home run, tying the game at 1-1 in the fourth inning, and it was another no-doubter to left field. He doesn’t skimp on distance.
Núñez was twice hit by pitches, and pinch-runner J.C. Escarra stole second base in the sixth inning, hustled to third on a throwing error and scored on Hanser Alberto’s double to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead. Alberto came home on Chance Sisco’s single.
Sisco walked in his previous plate appearance, and the single made him 6-for-13 this spring with four home runs and 10 RBIs.
Drew Jackson singled to lead off the seventh inning, stole second base, moved up on Mike Shawaryn’s wild pitch and scored on Anthony Santander’s double for a 4-1 lead. Jackson had three hits and is 10-for-24 this spring, and it’s hard to fathom the Orioles putting him on waivers rather than taking him north as their second Rule 5 infielder. Richie Martin is profiling as the starting shortstop and Jackson can handle a utility role.
“Both our Rule 5 guys are exciting players,” Hyde said. “They’re really athletic, can do a lot of different things. Jackson steals a base and gets a couple big knocks. He’s playing great and we’re going to keep moving him around the field. I love his versatility. He plays the game really hard, which I love, and he really enjoys it. He’s got a great attitude, wants to learn.
“Both of those guys are really coachable and they want to get better and they work on it every day. Both of those guys have been a pleasure.”
Cashner retired the first five batters with relative ease, getting two soft ground balls and a line drive to second baseman Jace Peterson in the first inning and inducing a popup and recording a strikeout in the second. But he walked the next two batters, and Tzu-Wei Lin’s automatic double gave Boston a 1-0 lead and brought Hyde out of the dugout.
Cashner threw 29 pitches in the second and Hyde didn’t want to push him. The veteran right-hander got in more work in the bullpen before heading to the clubhouse.
“That’s some of the better stuff that I’ve had in a while,” Cashner said. “I’ve been working on my slider. I thought my slider was tight. Missed a couple of change-ups, but overall I thought I was backspinning the baseball really well.”
Two spring starts for Cashner have resulted in five runs and seven hits allowed in 4 2/3 innings. He didn’t issue a walk over three innings in his debut against the Tigers.
Cashner threw only 11 pitches in the first inning today, but Sandy Leon worked him for a 10-pitch walk with two outs in the second. A free pass to Gorkys Hernández was followed by the Lin double, which would have plated two runs if it didn’t hop the fence.
“That was unfortunate,” Hyde said. “Sandy Leon threw an AB on him that lasted like 13 pitches. I hated to do that, but I just didn’t want to extend him over 30 pitches in a spring training game, first or second week in March. I didn’t like doing it, but I just didn’t want to take any chances.”
Nate Karns worked his prescribed one inning and didn’t allow a run. He walked Brock Holt on four pitches with two outs in the third and struck out Steve Pearce.
“Real positive,” Hyde said. “His velo was up a little bit. I thought Nate threw the ball really well. I’ll get a report right now and check how he’s doing and we’ll go from there, but he looked really good. I thought the shape to his pitches was more crisp and he had a little bit more velo, so it was a good inning for him.”
Catcher Jesús Sucre made his Orioles debut and caught the first three innings, copying the plan that Hyde laid out for him. Sucre grounded to Holt, who ranged far to his left to make the play.
“That’s like riding a bike for Sucre,” Hyde said. “He can really catch and throw and he’s got a great presence behind the plate. He’s going to shut down a running game. He’s going to really work well with pitchers. It’s something he’s always done, and no different today.”
Sisco and Sucre could be the catching tandem to start the season with Austin Wynns’ oblique injury sidelining him indefinitely. Wynns isn’t approaching a return. He’s down for a while.
It won’t always pay off.
Mullins also laid down a sacrifice bunt and made an outstanding leaping catch near the center field fence to rob Christian Vázquez.
“It’s playing the game,” Hyde said. “That’s what we’ve been talking a lot about is playing the game and playing without fear. That bunt was on his own, he makes the play in center field.
“Santander with two really tough, nice plays in left field. Guys are playing and it looks like they’re enjoying it. Both of those guys are really playing well. Our outfield defense has been great.”