Another solid start for Rodriguez and 2 hits for Kjerstad in Orioles' 4-3 win over Tigers - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Another solid start for Rodriguez and 2 hits for Kjerstad in Orioles’ 4-3 win over Tigers

Heston Kjerstad
Photo Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel

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SARASOTA, Florida-What’s happening?—Dean Kremer will make his third start of the spring when the Orioles play the Atlanta Braves on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at CoolToday Park in North Port, Florida. Chris Sale will start for the Braves.

The game will be broadcast on WBAL/98 Rock with Geoff Arnold and Brett Hollander.

The Orioles optioned right-handed pitcher Seth Johnson and reassigned right-handers Jonathan Armbruester, Garrett Stallings, Nathan Webb, left-hander Ronald Guzmán and catcher Silas Ardoin to minor league camp. They have 57 players remaining on their spring training roster.

According to Bloomberg, the MLB ownership committee has approved the sale of the Orioles from the Angelos family to David Rubenstein, who was at Friday night’s game. In order for the sale to be complete, it must be approved by 23 of the 30 owners.

What’s happened?—Grayson Rodriguez allowed a run on six hits in 3 1/3 innings in the Orioles’ 4-3 win over the Detroit Tigers before 7,709, the third sellout of the spring at Ed Smith Stadium on Friday night.

Rodriguez struck out one and walked two, throwing 62 pitches. He gave up a home run to Detroit’s Jake Rogers in the fourth inning.

“I thought his fastball command was better,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I thought he had really good stuff. It was nice to see him get into the fourth inning and continue to build his pitch count up. He’s looks a little bit better every time out and a little sharper every time out.”

In three starts, Rodriguez has allowed three runs on 10 hits for a 3.68 earned-run average. He’s walked five and struck out five.

“I really wish I could have pitched four,” Rodriguez said. “That was my goal going into it.”

Rodriguez said that it was good to pitch with runners on base.

“Any time you can pitch in the high-stress situations in spring training, it’s a good thing. I’m really not worried about results. It gives you some other things to work on, guys on third base, guys on second base. You got guys on first and second, you’re trying to get ground-ball double plays.”

Rodriguez has been working on a two-seam fastball this spring.

“Last year, that’s something I wouldn’t have been able to work on,” he said. “This year, getting to throw it a lot. Really not worried about the results it gets. Threw it some more today. Pretty happy with how it played. Still lot of work to do before the spring is over.”

Closer Craig Kimbrel threw a scoreless fifth, his first of the spring, walking one.

“It’s a typical spring training for him right now,” Hyde said. “This was his third appearance, so he’ll have a few more. I thought the fastball was a little bit better. He’s working on some stuff with his breaking ball. I think it’s a typical spring training performance from him early in camp.”

Yennier Cano threw a spotless sixth. Jacob Webb allowed a hit and struck out two in the seventh. Cionel Pérez gave up two runs on three hits, and was pulled after retiring only two batters.

Bryan Baker walked two but struck out three and recorded the save.

Leftfielder Heston Kjerstad was 2-for-3 with a double and single.

“Got some hits to fall today,” Kjerstad said. “Felt pretty good. Feeling more confident in the box every day.

“It’s not where I want it to be. That’s part of spring. I’m getting it dialed in. I’m making a few adjustments, getting some at-bats under my belt, getting comfortable again. Been feeling good the last week, and trending in that direction I want to be going in.”

Kjerstad is pleased with his outfield defense.

“I’ve been feeling good about it,” he said. “They’ve told me, ‘You know you can swing the bat.’ They want to see me be a really great defender. It’s been fun for me to be able to work with [outfield coach Anthony] Sanders out there. He’s been great for me. He’s been able to teach me some things to make me a better defender and also starting to enjoy the process out there of trying to be a great defender.”

Hyde said he was pleased with Kjerstad’s swing.

“Love to see him go the other way like he did,” Hyde said. “He’s been coming around balls and pulling balls on the ground. To see him get a pitch out over the plate and stay on that side of the field, that was a good sign.”

Shortstop Gunnar Henderson and designated hitter Ryan Mountcastle had RBI singles.

Veteran Kolten Wong, who has never played an infield position other second base in a regular-season game, started at third base and got his first hit, an RBI single in the sixth.

What’s up with?— Keegan Akin has pitched four hitless innings, in three appearances, allowing a walk and striking out four.

“I think it’s going about as well as it can go for me,” Akin said “I’ve got to keep that rolling.”

Akin missed the second half of last season with a back injury, but he’s looked strong so far.

“I kept the same offseason routine as last year,” Akin said. “I threw a lot more bullpens this year than I did last year. Being on the [injured list] most of the year last year, I wanted to make sure I was extra ready, I guess. Other than that, nothing really different than years past.”

Akin is one of many relievers competing for a spot in the Orioles’ bullpen.

“It’s been fun, really fun. A lot of good things going on in the pitching side of baseball this spring,” Akin said. “It’s been fun to watch and be a part of.”

What’s what? The Spring Breakout event between the prospects of the Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates has been billed as a matchup of the top two farm systems in baseball. According to MLB Pipeline, that is no longer the case.

The Orioles continue to be the top farm system in baseball, but the Pirates dropped from second to ninth.

What’s the word? “Not exactly where I want to be yet, still got a lot to improve on, but definitely improving at a good rate.”­ Grayson Rodriguez on his first three starts

What’s the number? 17.18. That’s Cionel Pérez’s spring training ERA. He’s allowed seven runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. Last spring training, his ERA was 1.13, allowing a run on seven hits in eight innings.

What’s the record? 12-2. The Orioles will play the Atlanta Braves on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at CoolToday Park.

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