Wrapping up the Orioles’ 4-3 win over Toronto

DUNEDIN, Fla. - If spring training is for working on things for certain veterans, Orioles opening day starter Alex Cobb sure did that today. And we might see more of his experiment.

In a game the Orioles won 4-3, he pitched from the stretch throughout his 69-pitch five-inning outing against the Toronto Blue Jays at Dunedin Stadium. He was rolling with it, throwing a no-hitter for four innings before allowing three runs in the fifth. He liked how it went so much that we could see more of this. Maybe even on opening day, March 28 in the Bronx against the New York Yankees.

Cobb allowed four hits and the three runs with no walks and eight strikeouts. He threw 48 of the 69 pitches for strikes, worked on his splitter and looked ready to start the season.

Thumbnail image for Cobb Gray Sidebar.jpg“It felt really good,” he said of pitching from the stretch. “It’s something I’ve always thought about trying. The simplicity of it seems like a good idea. When you practice your bullpens, you are always thinking about two different deliveries and I want to clean all those thoughts up and stop worrying that both are there. I’m trying it out. I’m experimenting with it and I liked it today.

“I think there’s a chance of it (in the regular season) for sure. I made a gametime decision to go from the stretch. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. It felt really good in the bullpen from the stretch. Everybody thinks it’s a good idea. Always experiment.”

Added manager Brandon Hyde: “I put a lot of trust in guys that have been there before and know what they want and need to do to get ready. I trust Alex. He’s put in a lot of starts, especially in the American League East.

“That was four great innings. Ran into a little trouble in the fifth. That was the best stuff he’s shown this spring. He had three pitches going and finished up with more pitches in the bullpen.”

The Orioles led 2-0 on RBI doubles in the fourth from Renato Núñez and Stevie Wilkerson. Chance Sisco’s bases-loaded walk in the fifth made it 3-0 on his 11th RBI before the Blue Jays got four hits and three runs with two outs and none on in home fifth.

In the Orioles eighth, Austin Hays hit a leadoff homer to right off Javy Guerra that broke the 3-3 tie. Hays is batting .351. Over his last five games, he is 7-for-16 with three doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs.

“It’s the continuation of a really good spring,” Hyde said of Hays. “I just like the way he attacks the ball offensively. I think he’s got power from pole to pole. He’s got a got a lot of tools and can really run. He’s a good outfielder and throws well. He’s exciting to watch and for him to perform like this this spring has been great.”

Sisco drew the walk that produced the third Orioles run. He went 0-for-3 and his average is down to .292. But he still feels good on offense and today he was also on the other end of Cobb’s hitless and scoreless first four frames.

‘I think I’ve still been having really good at-bats,” Sisco said. “I haven’t had great results the last few games, but I’ve been seeing some pitches, walking and putting the barrel on the ball.

“He (Cobb) looked great. I think he had really good feel for his pitches today. His off-speed looked really good and his fastball, he was commanding it. Looked really good.”

In winning for just the second time in seven games, the Orioles are now 11-10-2 for the spring, 6-4-2 on the road and 3-0 versus Toronto. The quartet of John Means, Tanner Scott, Evan Phillips and Cody Carroll combined for four scoreless innings to end the game. O’s pitchers walked two and fanned 13.

Mike Wright gets the start on Sunday in Sarasota versus the Yankees’ Jonathan Loaisiga at Ed Smith Stadium. The game will air on both MASN and the Orioles Radio Network.

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