It was another day when the Orioles did not get a strong outing from their starting pitcher. Right-hander Félix Hernández, a six-time All-Star and the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner, again had a shaky outing as the Orioles faced the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.
Hernández did not express concern over either the stat sheet or that his fastball again was mostly in the mid-80s. He’ll no doubt get more chances to show he can be effective but his ERA is 9.64 after two spring outings.
With one out in the home first, Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a fly ball down the left-field line. O’s left fielder Ryan Mountcastle got there in plenty of time but dropped the ball for a two-base error. With two outs Todd Frazier doubled to left for a 1-0 lead. Hernández threw 20 pitches in the first inning with an average fastball velocity of 85.8. His top pitch hit 87.4 mph, per Statcast.
His second inning began with a strikeout of Jacob Stallings on a nice changeup with good downward bite. But Erik González then reached on a swinging bunt single down the third-base line. Anthony Alford followed with a two-run homer to right-center for a 3-1 Pirates lead. He hit a 1-0 fastball that was 85 mph and found the middle of the plate. The ball had an exit velocity of 108.8. After Hernández hit Andrew Susac, two grounders got him out of that inning.
Hernández allowed a run in his third inning and was pulled with two outs. Stallings singled to center with two outs to score Bryan Reynolds, who had singled to start the inning and advanced on a wild pitch. Dusten Knight replaced Hernández and got the inning’s final out.
Hernández compared today’s outing to his last. when he allowed two runs in two innings on Saturday versus Detroit.
“It was better (this time),” he said. “I was throwing a lot of strikes and attacking the zone. I felt really good. The results were not what I want, but I felt good.”
Hernández went 2 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and four runs (three earned) with no walks and one strikeout. He threw 20 pitches in the first inning, 18 in the second and 16 in the third. He recorded 33 strikes on those 54 pitches. His average fastball velocity was 85.3 mph, per Statcast, with a top of 87.4.
Hernández was asked how the hitters are reacting to his stuff.
“Actually, they’re reacting a little bit different,” he said. “I mean, I’ve been getting a lot of ground balls with my sinker, but they were, like, waiting on my curveball and changeup.”
Hernández again was mostly 85, 86 with his fastball.
“That’s the kind of pitcher that I am,” he said. “I think I can get to 91, like last year. But that’s the kind of pitcher that I am right now. I don’t care about velocity, I just want to get people out, that’s it.”
He added that he was not concerned with game results yet. Over two games he has allowed six hits and six runs (five earned) over 4 2/3 innings.
“No, not at all. Not at all,” he said. “The only one hard-hit was the homer. That’s it. Other than that it was ground balls.”
The Orioles had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the first off right-hander Mitch Keller. Cedric Mullins doubled to right to start the game and scored when Yolmer Sánchez singled to center. In the third, facing lefty Chasen Shreve, Mullins was robbed of extra bases on Alford’s diving catch in left-center.
Down 3-1 in the third inning, the Orioles scored four runs off Shreve to lead by two. Mountcastle tied the game with a two-run double to left. It scored Jahmai Jones, who had walked, and Sánchez, who had singled. Pat Valaika’s double gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead, and an RBI single by Ramón Urías made it a 5-3 lead.
The Pirates got single runs in the third and fourth, the last coming off right-hander Jorge López. But López gave up just one run and one hit over three innings, pitching through the sixth. That leaves his spring ERA over three games at 3.38.
The game is tied at 5-5 in the seventh and Evan Phillips came on to pitch in that inning for the Orioles.
This entry will be updated.
The final from Bradenton: The Pirates scored twice off Phillips in the last of the seventh to snap a 5-5 tie and beat the Orioles 7-5. That is five losses in six games as the Birds fall to 3-7-1.
Will Craig homered for a 6-5 lead and Arden Pabst doubled in the second run in that inning for the Pirates, who improved to 6-4-1.
Dillon Tate pitched a scoreless last of the eighth for the Orioles on 12 pitches. O’s pitching allowed nine hits, two walks and two home runs today.
Sánchez was the only Oriole with a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3.
Tomorrow the Orioles host the Philadelphia Phillies in Sarasota at 1:05 p.m. John Means is scheduled to make that start.