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.
“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]