The Orioles were among the Grapefruit League team leaders in runs, hits and stolen bases. And that doesn’t mean much now, obviously, in terms of what might happen in the American League.
The Orioles were held to two runs and eight hits on opening day in Thursday’s 7-2 loss to the Yankees. It snapped an eight-game opening day win streak and left the Orioles with an all-time record of 43-23 in openers.
The Orioles faced this quartet of pitchers in Game 1: Masahiro Tanaka, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman. That group would challenge any lineup. But the nine the Orioles sent out there Thursday could struggle to score runs all year.
The lineup featured a leadoff hitter in Cedric Mullins who struggled late last year, Chris Davis, who has struggled for several years, and a 3-4-5 of Jonathan Villar, Trey Mancini and Rio Ruiz. Led by Mancini, that trio actually went 6-for-11 with a double and two RBIs on opening day.
With Mark Trumbo on the 60-day injured list and Davis still struggling to prove he can get some offense going, the Orioles will likely be challenged to score runs. They’ll need to produce as many clutch hits as possible, take extra bases when they can, advance runners often and steal a few bags too.
We’re going to find out which of these players will show promise and which might not have what it takes. That is, obviously, a big part of a rebuilding situation. Giving players chances to see which ones might be part of your future and which ones you may to have move on without.
As executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias has stated a few times, the Orioles are looking to add to the organization-wide talent base this season. That is a primary goal. It might be one reason they added catcher Pedro Severino, who is out of options. That forced Chance Sisco, who has options remaining, to the farm to start the year. The Orioles were able to add to the talent base at catcher. It doesn’t mean Severino will be here a year from now or even make it through this season with the team. But for now he’s on the big league roster and should get a few chances.
The Orioles were a big underdog in Las Vegas on opening day and certainly figure to be that often this year. But tell us something we didn’t already know. It will be interesting to see how this team handles adversity, which is sure to come, and how they bounce back. Do they remain positive? Will that be hard to do? How will a rookie manager handle it if the losses start mounting?
An opener today: The Orioles are using an opener today, when right-hander Nate Karns starts. He will pitch probably an inning or two and then give way to the bullpen. The O’s ‘pen should be well rested after an off-day, and since Monday’s starter, David Hess, pitched two innings on Thursday.
Karns has been a starter throughout his career, so that will not be new to him. He’s had some success in his career against the Yankees, with a 2.70 ERA. And he pitched well later in spring camp. Over his last 7 1/3 innings he allowed four hits and one run.
The injury to Alex Cobb may have caused this move today, at least partially, but I like the fact the new team management seems open to all options, not only in building a roster but in how they will run the team day-to-day.