Taylor Davis and Austin Hays hit back-to-back intrasquad homers

The Orioles played their final intrasquad game tonight at Camden Yards.

Major League Baseball keeps chugging forward in its quest to begin the 2020 season.

For the Orioles to reach opening day against the Red Sox, they first must play three exhibition games and hold a workout Wednesday in Baltimore. They’ll head to Boston the following day.

They aren’t out of the woods, but they’re almost ready to leave Maryland.

Tonight was more of a scrimmage with crowd noise piped in but no player introductions. Shawn Armstrong started for the team dressed in white, designated as the hosts, and left-hander Tommy Milone started for the orange.

Only one of them has a shot at the rotation.

Milone worked five innings and allowed three runs and five hits with five strikeouts. He retired 15 of 16 batters in his previous outing.

Davis-T-Smiling-ST-sidebar.jpgCatcher Taylor Davis, assigned to the alternate camp in Bowie, played first base for the hosts and homered off Milone. Ryan Mountcastle continued his education in left field, which is going to transfer later to Prince George’s Stadium.

More defensive fun on the other side with catcher Bryan Holaday playing first base and Dilson Herrera getting a shot at left field. DJ Stewart slid over to right.

Herrera raced into the left-center field gap and made a lunging catch to rob Stevie Wilkerson in the bottom of the third. Something I did not anticipate witnessing tonight.

Armstrong loaded the bases with one out on a single by leadoff hitter Hanser Alberto and walks to Rio Ruiz and Stewart. Herrera lined a two-run single into left-center field and manager Brandon Hyde halted the inning with Armstrong reaching his pitch count.

Five batters faced, only one retired.

Herrera has not stopped hitting. His week has featured three-run and two-run homers, tonight’s two-run single and double, and other hits that must be keeping him in the roster discussion.

Hyde is moving around Herrera while the bat sizzles, putting him at second base in the fifth inning. He’s also played first and third in intrasquads.

First baseman Chris Davis and shortstop José Iglesias had the night off, but stuck around to watch. Outfielder Anthony Santander sat by himself in the stands.

Infielder Richie Martin arrived again a few minutes before the first pitch. A fractured wrist isn’t keeping him away, and he sat in the stands with Dwight Smith Jr., who faced live pitching earlier in the day.

Milone, locked in competition with Kohl Stewart for a rotation spot, retired the first seven batters before surrendering back-to-back home runs to Taylor Davis and Austin Hays. Milone struck out Renato Núñez to end the first inning.

Cue Nirvana’s “Breed.”

“You can plant a house. You can build a tree.”

Richard Bleier had time to do both in the top of the second inning. He faced five batters and retired them all, with Hyde keeping him on the mound to build up his pitch count. Adley Rutschman, serving as the orange team’s designated hitter, grounded to first base.

Alberto flied out to deep center field, with Hays running down the ball and finding out that the bullpen gate was unlocked.

Hey, it’s summer training camp for everyone.

Rutschman lined an RBI single to center field off Chandler Shepherd in the fifth inning.

Mychal Givens retired all three batters he would have faced under stricter rules, including a strikeout of Pedro Severino. He was kept on the mound to face Herrera and struck him out.

Milone began the bottom of the third by retiring Andrew Velazquez on a grounder to short. Davis hit the foul pole in left field and Hays launched a ball to the back row of seats in left.

I like Hays’ chances of batting leadoff on opening day. Perhaps with Alberto directly behind him.

Velazquez had an RBI single off Milone in the fourth after singles by Austin Wynns and Mason Williams.

Shepherd, assigned to the alternate camp, came back out for a second inning with the white jerseys and Ruiz homered into the Orioles’ bullpen. Severino singled, moved up on Herrera’s scorcher that Núñez couldn’t backhand and later scored on Pat Valaika’s grounder. Núñez bobbled that one but got the out at first base.

Ruiz has hit three intrasquad home runs.

Rutschman collected his RBI with a shot up the middle. A loud one.

Milone retired the side in order in the fifth, striking out Núñez, and we were done for the night.

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