LeBlanc gets start against Marlins; Orioles lose to Nationals; Rule 5 pitcher Rucker stands out - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

LeBlanc gets start against Marlins; Orioles lose to Nationals; Rule 5 pitcher Rucker stands out

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida- What’s happening? – Veteran Wade LeBlanc will make his second Grapefruit League start when the Orioles play the Miami Marlins in Jupiter on Wednesday. It’s the second game of the Orioles’ two-game trip to Florida’s East Coast.

LeBlanc allowed one hit in two scoreless innings on February 23 in his only start of the spring. He also threw a simulated game in Sarasota.

Trey Mancini won’t be playing. He’s the only position player not scheduled to play in either game.

“He’s just not feeling great,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “The right thing to do is leave him back there [in Sarasota] … He doesn’t feel sick or anything. He just doesn’t feel 100 percent.”

What’s happened? The Orioles lost for the first time in a week when they fell to the Washington Nationals, 5-3, before 3,753 at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

It ended a six-game unbeaten streak (five wins, one tie).

Ty Blach allowed five runs on five hits in the second inning. He was removed with one out in the third.

“I was getting a lot of weak contact in that third inning,” Blach said. “A couple of balls maybe over the plate enough to where they could get them over some infielder’s heads. I didn’t feel I gave up too much hard contact other than the one to [Juan] Soto that kept carrying in the wind.”

The big hit was a two-run double by Soto that leftfielder Ryan Mountcastle couldn’t catch.

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“It’s a good lineup,” Blach said. “They capitalize on mistakes, for sure.”

Hyde agreed with Blach.

“I thought Ty threw the ball well,” Hyde said. “I thought he got squeezed a little bit. I thought he threw some quality pitches. He didn’t give up a ton of hard contact, some soft hits and some ground balls that got through.”

Tommy Milone was originally scheduled to start but threw a simulated game in Sarasota instead.

“Something with his [trapezius muscle] was a little tender,” Hyde said. “We had enough pitching, anyways, so we decided to leave him back.”

Cody Carroll pitched a scoreless inning, allowing a hit. In four spring innings, Carroll, who missed nearly all last season because of a back injury, has pitched four shutout innings, giving up two hits.

“I definitely think Cody’s someone who’s on the radar, potentially making our club,” Hyde said. “I like how he threw in the Arizona Fall League.”

One of the longer shots in camp is Eric Hanhold, who has thrown three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit. Hyde mentioned him on Sunday as a possibility and emphasized that he has a chance to make the team.

“There’s no doubt,” Hyde said. “I think that we’re always trying to improve. I’m trying to get more talent in here. Eric is 6-6, and throws 96, 97 with a really good changeup.

“I like the ride on his fastball. It’s 96, and it plays up. It’s a funky, real tall slot that’s going to give hitters trouble. It’s still really early, but he’s another one, just like Cody Carroll that’s in the mix, competing for bullpen spots.”

Hyde was happy the Nationals presented a top lineup and that Max Scherzer started. Scherzer allowed two runs on five hits in 3 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out five.

“They brought their varsity squad in,” Hyde said. “Max Scherzer is the ultimate competitor, but we’re still in the first week of March.”

What’s up with Michael Rucker? The Rule 5 pick has yet to allow a run in five innings this spring. In the fourth and fifth, Rucker got to face a lineup full of players that won the World Series in 2019.

After a spotless fourth, Rucker allowed a single to Andrew Stevenson and walked Soto in the fifth but escaped after retiring Howie Kendrick on a fly ball and striking out Asdrubal Cabrera.

“You want to see him in situations that are realistic season-wise,” Hyde said. “I love to see him dominate an inning, but it’s important to see how he deals with some adversity, some traffic on the bases.

He looks pretty composed on the mound to me,” Hyde said. “A guy that has very little Triple-A time in his first major league spring training. His stuff is really good. I like the way he competes. His fastball has a lot of life to it. His breaking ball is really sharp. He’s fun to watch. We’ll watch him over the next few weeks.”

What’s what? – The Orioles played for the first time in the four-year-old park shared by the Nationals and Houston Astros. General Manager Mike Elias, who worked for the Astros when the park opened, attended the game.

On Wednesday, the Orioles will play in the only other Grapefruit League park used by two teams, the Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals. The Orioles last played there in 2018 when they faced the Cardinals.

What’s the word? “It was just a really cool experience to get to face those guys to just have fun, see what my stuff does against them, not thinking too much about it, just doing what I do best.”-Rucker on facing last year’s World Series’ winners

What’s the number? 3. The  Orioles’ bullpen allowed just three hits in the final 5 2/3 innings. Besides Carroll and Rucker, Miguel Castro and Paul Fry had scoreless outings. Minor league pitcher Cesar Valdez rescued Blach in the third, recording two outs.

Rucker, Carroll and Fry each allowed a hit.

What’s the record? 6-5-1. The Orioles meet the Miami Marlins at 1:05 p.m. at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter. The game will be streamed on Orioles.com/MLB At Bat.

Call for questions: If you have any questions about what you’ve seen, heard or read about spring training, I’ll be answering questions in the next several days. Please leave them in the comments or write to me: [email protected]

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 4, 2020 at 8:24 am

    Laugh all you want, but I’m thinking this team may not lose 100 this year. Maybe even closer to 90 ….

    • dlgruber1

      March 4, 2020 at 5:18 pm

      If you really wanna laugh how about this? I think this team reminds me of the 1989 team that was in contention until the final weekend following the 1988 season in which they lost the first 21 games and finished 54-107. That ‘89 team played with heart and felt they had something to prove. They ended up as one of the most beloved O’s teams ever. I might be crazy but I’m thinking this team is gonna surprise everybody.

    • Birdman

      March 4, 2020 at 6:14 pm

      Agreed … with a rejuvenated Crush, I think 70 wins is possible.

  2. Bhoffman1

    March 4, 2020 at 8:53 am

    I was at the game yesterday some quick takeaways. Alberto is a stud. He made hard contact on every swing. Was robbed of a homer by Taylor. Ruiz looks a lot better. Davis seems more alert he might hit over 200. Jose got thrown out at second loafing around its base. Mountcastle looked terrible in the field and Williams has a quick bat and should be given the fourth spot in the outfield. Ty Blach is mediocre

    • Bhoffman1

      March 4, 2020 at 9:24 am

      Also Richie Martin is quickest SS and amazingly acrobatic in the field but at bat he looks like a little leaguer. He needs to go on Chris Davis eating regime.

      • Bancells Moustache

        March 4, 2020 at 10:30 am

        Yeah, and he needs to be in Norfolk while he does it.

  3. Bman

    March 4, 2020 at 9:04 am

    Wondering if they can carry two rule 5’s all year. I guess we’ll find out. Either way, the bullpen should be vastly improved this year. Núñez may be trade bait at some point to clear up the logjam and bring up Mountcastle.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      March 4, 2020 at 2:42 pm

      They can if they pitch well enough!

  4. willmiranda

    March 4, 2020 at 10:18 am

    The O’s finally lose. The Warehouse breathes a sigh of relief. Perhaps Elias showed up at the
    game to get everybody back on The Plan, and they lost to impress the Boss.

  5. Orial

    March 4, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Mountcastle–whart are we gonna do with? A DH on a DH laden team. This young pitching staff deserves solid D behind them(thank you Hays) not a bunch of clods(sorry Trey/Mountcastle). It is an interesting ensemble of talent vying for this team.

  6. BirdsCaps

    March 4, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Hey Rich, what in the he double hockey sticks has gotten into Davis? I am not following st as close as I would like. Is his stance/swing different?

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