Holliday, Cowser, Norby, Nevin homer in Orioles' 13-8 win over Blue Jays; Irvin struggles - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Holliday, Cowser, Norby, Nevin homer in Orioles’ 13-8 win over Blue Jays; Irvin struggles

Photo Credit: Jonathan Dyer USA TODAY Sports

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DUNEDIN, Florida-What’s happening?—Dean Kremer will make his fifth start of the spring on Wednesday night when the Orioles host the Philadelphia Phillies at Ed Smith Stadium at 6:05. Philadelphia hasn’t named its starter.

The game will be televised on MASN.

Kremer has a 4.38 earned-run average in four starts. He’s allowed six runs on 11 hits in 12 1/3 innings, striking out 11 and walking four.

Manager Brandon Hyde said he hasn’t decided on starters beyond Opening Day, when Corbin Burnes will make his first start as an Oriole.

“I’ve got a pretty good idea, but I’m not ready to announce it,” Hyde said.

The 29-year-old Burnes, who won the National League Cy Young Award in 2021, will be opposed by the Los Angeles Angels’ Patrick Sandoval in the opener on March 28th.

First baseman Ryan Mountcastle said he expects to play Wednesday night. He hasn’t played since March 12th because of a stiff neck. Mountcastle took live batting practice in Sarasota. Outfielder Austin Hays hasn’t played since March 14th because of  illness, but he was in the Orioles’ clubhouse on Tuesday.

The Orioles optioned left-hander Bruce Zimmermann to minor league camp. Their spring training roster is at 46.

“We need rotation depth, so he’s going to be in our Norfolk rotation to start the year,” Hyde said. “It’s going to take more than five guys. I thought he threw the ball well this spring, but we’re going to start the year with him in Triple-A and continue to build him up.”

It’s possible that Zimmermann will join a Tides rotation that includes Justin Armbruester, Chayce McDermott and Cade Povich.

“I think you can never have enough, so hopefully we can stay healthy as we can in the big leagues, but things happen,” Hyde said. “To add someone like Zimm who’s been up and down with us for the last couple of years, have some experience down there. I think it’s going to be a factor for us.”

What’s happened? Baseball’s top prospect, Jackson Holliday, hit his second home run of the spring, centerfielder Colton Cowser hit his fifth and designated hitter Connor Norby hit his first in the Orioles’ 13-8 win over the Toronto Blue Jays before 7,239 at TD Ballpark on Tuesday.

Both of Holliday’s home runs have been hit in Dunedin. On March 10th, he hit a grand slam in a split-squad game. Holliday’s home run came in the sixth inning. Norby’s home run came in the fourth.

“I do like hitting here because usually the wind’s pretty favorable,” Holliday said.

The decision on whether the 20-year-old Holliday will start the season with the Orioles hasn’t been made, but he’s getting more confident.

“I think the last few games have been good,” Holliday said. “I know I’m probably striking out a little bit more than I would like. I know that takes time. I’ve put some good at-bats against some really good pitching, and I feel good at second base right now, so I feel pretty good with my game where it’s at, and whatever they decide, they decide, right?”

Holliday said he hasn’t been given a clue about whether he’ll make his major league debut on March 28th.

“I’m trying to win each and every at-bat, every play on defense, taking that attitude versus thinking too far in the future,” he said. “Be present, enjoy the game and control what you can control.”

Hyde has been impressed with Holliday’s work.

“The at-bats are more under control. He’s seeing the ball a little bit better,” Hyde said. “You’re seeing him more relaxed and more comfortable in the batter’s box.”

Hyde doesn’t deny that Holliday, who has been playing second base, looks like a major leaguer.

“It’s hard to say he doesn’t,” he said. “Even though he’s so young and how he’s playing, he’s playing with a ton of energy. I like the defense he’s playing. That’s improved. He’s taking really good at-bats.”

Cowser struck out in his first three at-bats and hit a 463- foot home run to center. First baseman Tyler Nevin followed with a homer.

Like Holliday, Cowser doesn’t know if he’ll make the team.

“We have a talented, really deep organization, lot of great guys in the outfield,” Cowser said. “Whatever decision they ultimately make, I’m going to trust it, stay ready no matter what.”

Cole Irvin struggled through 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on three hits, walking five and striking out two. He threw 75 pitches.

Irvin pitched five scoreless innings in his first two outings. In his last two, he’s allowed 10 runs on 10 hits, walking nine in 7 1/3 innings. His spring ERA is 7.30.

“I’d rather be going through that right now and make the adjustments, and going to the season, we’re good,” Irvin said. “Today, I just wanted to pitch. I wanted to get back to pitching, getting back to working in-and-out, up-and-down. I felt like I did that for the most part. I’m frustrated with the walks. It’s not part of my game. If I’m looking at the scoreboard, I gave up a couple of hits, but the walks are the tale of the story.”

Shortstop Jordan Westburg left the game in the fourth inning after he was hit on his left elbow by a pitch by Toronto minor league right-hander Anders Tolhurst. Hyde said Westburg was fine after the game.

What’s up with?—Kyle Stowers was hitless in three at-bats and hit a sacrifice fly. Stowers is in a heated competition for an outfield spot.

On Sunday, he hit three home runs against Detroit in Lakeland. Stowers has seven home runs. The left-handed hitting Stowers hit his first four against left-handers. The three on Sunday were hit against right-handers.

“The narrative was turning like it was all of a sudden, I couldn’t hit righties,” Stowers said. “I feel confident against both. Had a little 15 at-bat stretch where the results were going one way versus the other. Things kind of balance out.”

Stowers won’t quantify his odds of making the team.

“We’ve got another week. I’ve got to put together another week of good at-bats. Take good at-bats and let the cards fall as they’re going to,” he said.

What’s what?—Dunedin is usually not a place where the Orioles want to play their best players. It’s a 90-minute drive from Sarasota. This lineup featured Cowser, Holliday, Norby, Westburg, Coby Mayo and Adley Rutschman.

“It’s a lot of talented guys. It speaks to how [executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias] has drafted,” Hyde said.

What’s the word? “It’s pretty ridiculous how much talent we have in this organization.”-Holliday on his teammates. 

What’s the number? 463. That’s how far Cowser’s home run traveled. “Last spring training in Fort Myers, I think I hit one a little bit farther. [Today’s] felt the best, though,” Cowser said.

What’s the record? 19-5-2. The Orioles will play the Philadelphia Phillies at 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday at Ed Smtih Stadium.

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