He came into his start today at Ed Smith Stadium having allowed just one run in his last nine innings. Orioles right-hander Jorge López was quietly having a strong camp. But he ran into big trouble in the third inning this afternoon in Sarasota against the Minnesota Twins.
López came into this outing on a roll. For the spring, over four appearances, he had an ERA of 2.45. After allowing two runs in two innings in his first spring outing, he went three innings each in three consecutive bullpen appearances. And in those nine innings, he allowed just three hits and the one run.
His second spring start began well today. He pitched around a leadoff double to put up a scoreless first. In the second, he issued a one-out walk, but did not yield any runs.
But then came the Twins third.
After going 13 spring innings without allowing a homer, López gave up three in a span of eight batters.
Shortstop JT Riddle led off the inning with a blast to center for a 1-1 tie. After Luis Arraez walked, right fielder Kyle Garlick hit one out to center for a 3-1 lead. López then got the next two batters out before back-to-back singles brought left fielder Alex Kirilloff up. He reached on an error by Richie Martin, making his spring debut and playing second base today. That made it a 4-1 Twins, and when first baseman Willians Astudillo hit one out to left, the lead expanded to 7-1. The Twins scored seven runs on two singles, a walk, three homers and an error in the third. The two-out error made four of the runs unearned.
“I felt everything was working really good,” López said of his outing via Zoom. “Sinker, four-seam, but just a little bit up in the third. I left everything up. Fastball away, it should be little more up to a lefty, but with a righty, should be down and away and it was more middle up. That’s when I get hurt. Sometimes I try to take advantage of a better sinker and sometimes it doesn’t move like I want it.”
With eight games left after today, López said he has been thinking about the camp pitching competition.
“Absolutely,” he said. “You know, you come here every day and see guys working hard every day. That puts you on the spot where you have to be doing what they are doing. Lot of good arms and the competition is there. As a pitcher, I just try to do the best I can out there. If I make good pitches, I’m very hard to hit. But it gets difficult it I don’t put it where I want to.
“That energy that we have to the game, to the clubhouse, to everywhere. It makes (me) work more hard every day.”
After the Twins scored seven in the top of the third, the O’s got four in the last of the inning.
Stevie Wilkerson and Ryan McKenna singled and both scored on Franco’s first hit as an Oriole. He bounced into a double play his first time up, but produced a two-run double to left this time for a 7-3 game. Mountcastle followed with an RBI double to make it 7-4. The O’s pulled to within 7-5 on Chance Sisco’s RBI groundout that scored Mountcastle.
And Mountcastle came through again with a line drive homer to left in the Baltimore fifth to make it 7-6.
Mountcastle is really heating up. He is 2-for-3 today with two extra-base hits. And that makes him 7-for-16 his last five games with five doubles, two homers and five RBIs.
O’s catcher Pedro Severino led off the last of the second and homered to left to provide the Orioles a 1-0 lead. He started today 2-for-26 with just one extra-base hit. But he connected off J.A. Happ for his first of the spring.
The Twins pushed across a run in the off Paul Fry to lead 8-6 in the sixth. Fry allowed two hits and one run in two innings.
This entry will be updated.
A final: The Twins hit six homers today and the Orioles hit two as Minnesota scored in five different innings to beat the Orioles 12-7. The O’s lose for the second time in the last six games.
The Orioles are 7-12-1 with eight spring games remaining, 5-5 at home and 0-2 versus the Twins.
Mountcastle went 2-for-4 with two extra-base hits and two RBIs. Franco went 1-for-3 with a two-run double in his first O’s game. Severino hit his first homer. The O’s have scored 38 runs their past six games.
John Means gets the start Monday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Mountcastle on his big day: “I’m feeling pretty good. Just had to get my timing down. Sometimes it takes me a little while during spring. But starting to get the hang of things and seeing the ball pretty good.”
Mountcastle on potential of lineup grouping with Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander: “Yeah, I think we’re all excited. There is a lot of talent on this team. And lot of good hitters. If everybody can stay healthy I think we can have a really dangerous lineup.”
Mountcastle on working with hitting coach Don Long: “Yeah, he’s helped out a lot. Whether it be stuff with my hitting form or just things to think about going up to the plate. He’s given me a lot of advice and has helped me out a lot along the way.”