The rough start for O’s pitching didn’t end there, as Zimmermann was charged with seven runs today against the Tampa Bay Rays.
This was the final spring outing for Zimmermann, the Baltimorean who will make his third big league appearance when he starts the season’s third game, on Sunday in Boston.
Zimmermann and Rich Hill, starting for Tampa, each gave up leadoff homers in each of the first two innings. The top and bottom of the first and second began with home runs.
It doesn’t count, but still a unique development.
Today the Rays got to Zimmermann for two runs in the first. In his previous three games - he had also pitched in a B game and back field games - Zimmermann allowed just one hit over nine scoreless innings with three walks and 10 strikeouts.
But leading off the game, Rays designated hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo homered to center field. After Zimmermann recorded the next two outs, Yandy Díaz tripled and scored on a single by Francisco Mejia for a 2-0 lead.
The O’s Austin Hays matched that leadoff homer by starting the last of the first with a homer off Hill. Hays hit No. 4 this spring and raised his batting average to .400. Trey Mancini followed Hays with a single to center. Maikel Franco walked with two outs and a single to center by Pedro Severino tied the game.
The first inning ended with six hits and a 2-2 tie.
For the third half-inning in a row, there was a leadoff homer in the Tampa Bay second. This time, it was shortstop Willy Adames taking Zimmermann deep. His third spring homer gave the Rays a 3-2 lead.
And then Rio Ruiz tied the game at 3-3 when he led off the home second with a homer to right-center field. It was his first of spring in the last game. When the Rays’ Randy Arozarena grounded to short to start the Rays third, the game’s run of leadoff homers ended.
But Adames would homer again, this time with two outs and none on the Rays fourth, for a 4-3 Tampa Bay advantage.
The Rays continued to rough up O’s pitching, scoring four times in the top of the fifth for an 8-3 lead.
With one out, Zimmermann gave up three straight singles and Ruiz made an error at third base. He left with two runners on, down 5-3, and his two inherited runners came in to score against Wade LeBlanc.
Zimmermann’s final line today showed nine hits and seven runs allowed over 4 1/3 innings. He walked none, fanned three and gave up three homers. He ends spring with an ERA of 4.73.
“Obviously, not too happy with it,” he said via Zoom. “But we still went in there with a goal in mind of some things to accomplish. Obviously, I’ve got to a do a better job with some 0-2 pitches. Beside that, it took a little bit to get into rhythm today, as opposed to other outings that I had. I felt like once I got into it, though, in the second through the fourth inning, I was into what I was doing well in the past outings. Beside the solo shot to Adames, which he kind of just had my number today on two good pitches, I need to do a whole lot better job of getting ahead. That is where I fell behind today, a lot of 2-0s, and you just can’t put yourself in that position in the big leagues. So just do a better job of going through the zone hard and working ahead and putting guys away.”
Zimmerman said he is fired up to get the Game 3 start in Boston. He got to tell his family and friends that the local kid was going to be in the Orioles rotation.
“That was awesome,” said Zimmermann. “I had a feeling that I was going to make the roster. Obviously, being named the No. 3 starter is a great honor and just absolutely ecstatic about it. Really, really looking forward to going out there and competing with the guys and putting a winning ballclub together.
“It was definitely a special moment calling my family members and telling some of my friends. And some of them have already booked flights up to Boston to come see me for that opening weekend and obviously looking forward to that opening weekend in Baltimore. It was a definitely a nice culmination to a lot of hard work this offseason and coming into spring training and pitching well. It means a lot and I’m just looking forward to continuing into the regular season and pitching well.”
Spring training comes to an end: The Rays win it 8-3 in a seven-inning game as the O’s lose the final three games of their spring schedule. They were held to five hits today.
Hays finished his spring batting .392 with an OPS of 1.192.
LeBlanc was charged with a run and two hits in 1 2/3 innings. Paul Fry finished up with a scoreless seventh.
The Orioles ended the spring at 10-17-1 for 28 games, going 7-7 at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.
They open the new season Thursday at 2:10 p.m. in Boston with lefty John Means facing Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi.