Orioles defeat Pirates, Yankees in split-squad games; Gibson goes 5 in shutout win; Rutschman, Kjerstad homer - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Orioles defeat Pirates, Yankees in split-squad games; Gibson goes 5 in shutout win; Rutschman, Kjerstad homer

Syndication: Sarasota Herald-Tribune


SARASOTA—What’s happening? Kyle Bradish will make his fourth start of the spring on Monday when the Orioles visit the Philadelphia Phillies at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater at 1:05 p.m.

Bradish has allowed one earned run on four hits in nine innings, striking out 12 and walking two.

The game will be available on MLB.TV.

Cole Irvin will pitch against Boston on Tuesday, and Dean Kremer will face Toronto in Dunedin on Wednesday.

Félix Bautista, who has thrown two perfect innings, will follow Bradish on Monday.

Manager Brandon Hyde said that he expects DL Hall, who has had a sore back, to get into his first game in the next day or two.

First baseman Lewin Díaz, who was scratched from Tuesday’s game because of a sore shoulder, will be out a few more days.

Outfielder Anthony Santander, who played for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, will return to spring training shortly.

“First thing we’ll do is talk about what this last week is going to look like for him and see how he feels physically,” Hyde said. “He’s been playing a lot. Nine innings of defense, getting a lot of at-bats. Going to be cautious with him early. See how he feels.”

What happened? Kyle Gibson threw five scoreless innings, the first Orioles pitcher to do that, allowing three hits and striking out seven as the Orioles defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-0, before an announced crowd of 5.165 at Ed Smith Stadium on Sunday.

“That’s about as good as my stuff has felt, maybe in a long time,” Gibson said. “Little delivery change in between starts, not much, trying to be a little more athletic moving down the mound. I’ve felt rigid and stiff this spring so far, just giving myself a better athletic position really seemed to unlock my legs and let me move a little bit better.”

Gibson, who might receive the Opening Day nod, has thrown 14 innings, allowing 11 hits and striking out 13 without walking a batter, a stat he’s particularly pleased with.

“When you have a team that picks it like these guys, you’ve got to give them a chance,” Gibson said. “I think I got 3-and-1 or 3-and-0 on a couple of guys. ‘All right, here’s a couple of heaters in the zone, and hopefully they hit into the ground and let them field it.’ Just trying to have confidence in those guys and making sure I give them a chance.”

It was Gibson’s first time working with catcher Adley Rutschman, an experience that will be repeated many times this season.

“He has a really good idea of how my stuff plays and how it’s working, and we’re on the same page for the most part,” Gibson said.

With one start remaining, Gibson thinks the team is ready for Opening Day.

“It’s been excitement for Opening Day ever since we’ve been here,” Gibson said. “When you have a team that’s trending the way we are, you get excited when you know real games are coming. I think everybody’s ready to get out of Florida and start playing games that really matter. Guys that aren’t in the right spot are probably pretty close and guys that are feeling good are ready to go.

“The team really seems like these last few days they’ve been clicking, putting together really good at-bats. The work on the back fields has been awesome, and I think everybody’s ready to go.”

Rutschman hit his third home run, Heston Kjerstad, his fourth—both two-run home runs against Pittsburgh starter Vince Velasquez, who has started three times this spring—all at Ed Smith Stadium.

It is Kjerstad’s first major league camp, and he has stayed with just over a week left.

“Shoot, I haven’t even really thought about it. I just keep showing up, taking it one day at a time and just enjoying it,” Kjerstad said.

He has enjoyed talking with the veterans in camp.

“James McCann, a lot of those guys, they’re just good to talk to,” Kjerstad said. “They’re about the little things. Take care of your business. Take care of your workouts. When it comes to hitting, they’ve seen a bunch of big league pitchers. They had a bunch of AB’s.

“They’re able to show you certain guys: ‘With this guys with this arsenal, you can cut down this side of the plate or you can hunt this area of the plate.’ There’s a lot of stuff you can learn that’s intricate depending on the situation or who’s on the mound.”

“It’s fun to watch him right now,” Hyde said. “A couple of nice plays in the outfield as well, but how hard he can hit the baseball. It’s loud coming off his bat.”

Kjerstad and Colton Cowser have benefited from additional playing time with Santander and centerfielder Cedric Mullins playing in the WBC.

“Nice to give those guys a ton of at-bats in their first major league camp to see what they can do,” Hyde said. “They’ve all been impressive.”

Nomar Mazara hit a two-run double in the fifth and Ryan McKenna had an RBI single.

Bryan Baker, Joey Krehbiel, Mike Baumann and Nick Vespi combined for four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits.

In the other split-squad game, the Orioles defeated the New York Yankees in Tampa, 5-3. The Orioles have won six of seven.

“Our at-bats have definitely improved the last three or four days, and we’ve been playing good defense all camp, knock on wood,” Hyde said. “The pitching has improved and the quality of our at-bats has been better.”

Tyler Wells allowed one run on five hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Yankees. He struck out three without walking a batter.

Spenser Watkins pitched four innings, giving up two runs, one unearned. on four hits, striking out four and walking three.

Anthony Bemboom hit a three-run home run against Gerrit Cole.

What’s up with? Ryan Mountcastle has watched some of the WBC games, and said he would gladly play in the next one.

“If they ever asked me, that would be sick. I’ve got to be good enough to be asked to play in it,” he said.

Team USA has excellent position players, but lacks dominant starting pitching with Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander opting not to play.

“You’re more likely to get hurt as a pitcher than as a position player. It seems like position player-wise, we have all our studs out there. We have some good pitchers, too,” Mountcastle said.

What’s the word? “I’m so proud of him for what he did on the big stage. It’s fun to see your guys get national attention.”­-Hyde on Santander’s performance in the WBC, where he hit .353 after going hitless in 10 Grapefruit League at-bats.

What’s what? It’s a shame that American players haven’t shown the same commitment to the WBC that players from other countries have. Perhaps the enthusiasm of the players and fans in Miami for the Latin American teams can convince reluctant American players to participate in the next Classic.

What’s the number? 62. The gametime temperature was the lowest of the spring. It could be cooler than that in Clearwater on Monday but should be much warmer during the last week of the Orioles’ stay in Florida.

What’s the record? 12-10-2. The Orioles will play the Philadelphia Phillies at BayCare Ballpark at 1:05 p.m. on Monday.

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