Irvin allows 6 runs in Orioles' 7-5 loss to Braves; Kjerstad impresses in field; Spring Breakout game on MLB Network -
Spring Training

Irvin allows 6 runs in Orioles’ 7-5 loss to Braves; Kjerstad impresses in field; Spring Breakout game on MLB Network

Photo Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

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SARASOTA, Florida-What’s happening?-Grayson Rodriguez will make his fourth start of the spring when the Orioles play the Pittsburgh Pirates at LECOM Field in Bradenton, Florida at 3:05 p.m. on Thursday.

Rodriguez has allowed three runs on four hits in 7 1/3 innings. He’s walked five and struck out five. He’ll be opposed by Marco Gonzales.

After the Orioles-Pirates game, the top prospects of the two teams will play in the first Spring Breakout game. Jackson Holliday, Coby Mayo and Connor Norby are the featured Orioles. Left-hander Cade Povich, who has allowed one earned run on seven hits in seven innings, will start for the Orioles against Paul Skenes, last year’s overall top pick.

Povich was reassigned to minor league camp on Wednesday.

The seven-inning game will begin at 7:05 p.m. and be televised by the MLB Network. Roberto Mercado, the manager of Double-A Bowie, will manage the Orioles’ prospects.

“I think it’s good for them, good for the game,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s a showcase for them, get them used to media stuff, extra things you have to deal with when you get to the big leagues. I think it’s going to be a good experience for them.”

Skenes pitched a spotless inning against the Orioles on February 29th, retiring Holliday, the No. 1 pick in 2022, on a ground ball to second.

Infielder Max Wagner was removed from the Orioles’ roster. Infielder Carter Young and left-hander Trey McGough were added.

Centerfielder Cedric Mullins, who left the March 4th game with right hamstring discomfort, is expected to play.

“He should be in there tomorrow,” Hyde said. “We’re hoping he’s in there tomorrow.”

Kyle Bradish, who is rehabbing from a sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, and John Means, who was a month behind the pitchers’ throwing schedule because of a sore left elbow, both threw side sessions on Wednesday.

“Bradish had a side throwing fastballs and looking well,” Hyde said.

Hyde is getting closer to having to make some tough decisions on the Opening Day roster.

“There are a lot of guys that aren’t going to make the team that are good players,” Hyde said. “You don’t know where your extra help is going to come from.”

The Orioles reassigned Povich, left-handed pitchers Tucker Davidson, Luis González, right-handers Wandisson Charles, Chayce McDermott, infielder/outfielder Diego Castillo, infielder Errol Robinson and outfielder Daniel Johnson to minor league camp. They have 50 players remaining in camp.

According to the Associated Press, infielder Gunnar Henderson and catcher Adley Rutschman had their contracts renewed by the Orioles. They were among 12 players not yet eligible for arbitration whose contracts were unilaterally renewed by their teams. Henderson will be paid $756,200 and Rutschman $760,300.

Henderson earned $1,428,001 from the pre-arbitration bonus pool, and Rutschman $1,798,439.

What’s happened? Cole Irvin struggled through 3 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on seven hits in the Orioles’ 7-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves before their fifth sellout crowd of the spring, 8,031 at Ed Smith Stadium on Wednesday night.

Irvin, who walked four and struck out three, retired the first three Atlanta batters before allowing a two-run home run to Orlando Arcia and a solo homer to Jordan Luplow in the second.

“I think he struggled with his command,” Hyde said. “Some balls in the middle part of the plate that got hit hard that he just didn’t execute tonight.”

Jarred Kalenic’s  RBI single and Luis Guillorme’s two-run double put the Braves ahead, 6-5.

“I think it’s the right time of season for it to go wrong, so I can make the adjustments before we get to [regular] season,” said Irvin, who’s expected to be in the starting rotation along with Tyler Wells because of the injuries to Bradish and Means.

“I wasn’t throwing my sinker over for strikes,” Irvin said. “I can nitpick all I want. There’s just a lot of progress [to be made] between now and my next start. The overall takeaway is I threw really good sliders, threw some really good curveballs that I haven’t really showcased in a game yet. Didn’t get the swings that I thought I would, but overall I like the responses that we’re getting from hitters … I’m definitely not happy results-wise, but that’s spring training. It doesn’t hurt you right now.”

Ryan Hennen, Dillon Tate, Danny Coulombe and Keegan Akin combined to allow one hit in 4 1/3 innings. Andrew Suárez allowed a run in the ninth. Akin struggled last year because of back issues and Tate missed the season because of elbow/forearm injuries.

“It’s great to see Keegan Akin out there healthy, working at the tempo he works with really sneaky fastball,” Hyde said. “Good secondary stuff. I’ve been really impressed. He’s had a great spring training, and Dillon, for him to miss a year and to have the sinker he has now, he’s been throwing the ball extremely well this spring, also. Those are definitely two positives.”

The Orioles scored five runs in the first. Kolten Wong’s two-run double was the big hit.

Leftfielder Heston Kjerstad had an RBI single in the first inning. He was 1-for-3 and is batting .265. Kjerstad’s emphasis this spring has been on his defense. In the second inning, Kjerstad threw out Eli White, who had run through a stop sign at third base.

“Kjerstad made three really good throws, one to third, two to the plate,” Hyde said. “I loved the way he got to the ball and got the ball in, strong throws.”

“In the outfield, there’s a lot of plays you can make in the air, but when the ball’s on the ground, you can maybe cut down a runner from getting an extra base,” Kjerstad said. “Or cut down a dude from scoring just by attacking the ball hard and taking good angles. Anywhere I can help our pitches and cut down runs, you’ve got to keep going.”

Jordan Westburg started at shortstop for the third time. He was hitless in three at-bats but drove in a run with an infield out.

“I thought he’s been really solid,” Hyde said. “I’m going to keep moving him around. I’m trying to give him as many looks at third as possible. Shortstop is his natural position, keep him used to it, but also get him at-bats and have other guys play other positions.”

What’s up with?—Dillon Tate threw his fifth consecutive scoreless inning. He struck out one, walked one and threw a wild pitch. In five innings, he’s allowed one hit, struck out four and walked one.

“I like where I’m at right now,” Tate said. “I still want to improve on some things, and I don’t want to talk about that too much because people are always listening.”

Tate said he’s fully recovered from the elbow and forearm injuries that cost him the 2023 season.

“This is just normal,” Tate said. “I’m really just thankful. I had to take a step back and that was unfortunate. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s been good being back out here.”

What’s what?-The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and Fubo, a streaming service, reached an agreement that will allow Orioles games to be streamed.

Fans have been pleading for Orioles games to be available on streaming services, and this allows games on MASN to be seen by customers who couldn’t watch them before.

What’s the word? “I don’t think it’s much. We’re talking one degree of difference, stepping across my body versus stepping normally.”-Irvin on what he needs to do in his final two spring starts. 

What’s the number? Zero. The number of runs the Orioles scored after they took a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

What’s the record?  15-4-1. The Orioles will play the Pittsburgh Pirates at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida at 3:05 p.m. on Thursday.



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