DUNEDIN, Fla. - The Orioles didn’t get their first baserunner tonight until Chris Davis drew a walk against Aaron Sanchez leading off the top of the fifth inning. They didn’t have a hit until Jesús Sucre singled up the middle with one out - their only hit through seven innings.
They still haven’t scored.
Mike Wright turned in a decent outing tonight, but he was playing second fiddle to Sanchez, who retired the first 12 batters and shut out the Orioles on the one hit over six innings.
Second fiddle, but without a chorus of boos.
Making his final Grapefruit League appearance, Wright worked four innings and allowed two runs and three hits with two walks, three strikeouts and a wild pitch. He threw 55 pitches, 35 for strikes.
Wright continued to throw in the bullpen - simulated innings for “ups” and increasing his count to 85 - while John Means inherited a 2-0 deficit. He ends his spring with eight runs and 21 hits allowed in 21 2/3 innings.
“It was pretty good,” Wright said. “We’ve got some things to build on. I really like the stuff that I’ve been working on. I’ve been looking forward to moving forward with that and going up north with this team.”
Wright hasn’t been given official word that he’s on the club. It’s just an assumption.
“Earlier this week they told me that I was starting today,” he said with a chuckle. “That’s up to them to announce different things. They haven’t really told me anything, but obviously it looks promising.”
Justin Smoak led off the second inning with an opposite field home run, and the Jays increased their lead to 2-0 in the fourth on a walk, single and double play that included a rundown and was scored 4-3-6-3.
Brandon Drury hit a two-run homer off Means in the fifth for a 4-0 lead.
Wright said he didn’t know that he’d be pulled after four innings.
“They didn’t really tell me anything prior to the game,” he said. “I got some more work done in the ‘pen, got my pitch count up. I’m sure they need to see guys. Hopefully that’s a good thing for me. I’m not sure.”
Cedric Mullins aided Wright with a tremendous leaping catch against the center field fence to rob Danny Jansen and end the second. Wright spun and picked off Billy McKinney at second base to end the third. He also struck out two batters in the inning.
Has Wright been working on the pickoff move?
“No, but that looked pretty good though, huh?” he said. “It’s fun to be aggressive. You’ve got guys like (Jonathan) Villar out there not afraid to make aggressive plays and I was excited he went to the base right there.”
Mullins went all the way to the fence for a web gem.
“Did you see Cedric Mullins Spider-Man up the wall?” Wright asked. “That’s got to get you fired up. I know we’re losing, but when you see defensive plays like that ... I mean, Joey Rickard out there doing the Salsa and making great catches. We’re being aggressive on the bases and doing everything, it’s just exciting. I’m really excited to move forward.”
The only clean inning for Wright was the first on a soft liner to Villar and two ground balls.
Wright threw nine pitches in the first inning and 10 in the second, but the Jays worked him for 21 in the third.
Manager Brandon Hyde needs to know whether Núñez is healthy enough to make the opening day roster or a candidate for the injured list. Núñez is out of minor league options and Rio Ruiz could win the starting job at third.
Tanner Scott walked the first batter he faced in the seventh and has issued free passes in his last five appearances after giving out none over the first four.
Final update: The Orioles were held to four hits in a 4-0 loss.
Hyde on Wright: “We threw him four innings and he got some more pitches in the ‘pen. The way the game was going I wanted to make sure Means got a couple innings in and he finished up in the ‘pen, too. I thought Mike was good. He threw some good cutters. I thought he’s competed really well this spring. We’ve got to make a decision on what we’re doing, whether it’s a long relief role or a starting role. But I’ve been impressed with the way he’s competed. I thought he’s taken a lot of the analytics stuff he’s been working on into the game, especially tonight. He’s done a nice job.”
Hyde on whether could use opener: “It’s still a possibility. I think it’s safe to say we’re going to go with (Alex) Cobb and Cash (Andrew Cashner) and (Dylan) Bundy and then we’re going to make some decisions from there on what we’re doing and how we set the rotation following that. With the off-days in there we can be creative a little bit with how we pitch guys and whether we use the opener or not, we’ll see in the next couple days.”
Hyde said Cashner and Bundy could be reversed. He wasn’t giving an order beyond Cobb on opening day.