Don’t look now, but the O’s are 8-2 in Spring Training games and have been looking pretty impressive.
Okay, so I know it’s only Spring Training, but after the winter we’ve had and the Ravens season ending earlier than we all had hoped, it’s a nice sight to see, no matter how unimportant some of these games might be.
One player who has gotten off to a hot start—and needs to continue to be hot the whole year—is Nick Markakis. So far, Markakis is batting .667 with four doubles in 16 at-bats. One area he failed in last year was extra base hits, and so far this spring, he has a slugging percentage of 1.000.
Chris Davis is out to prove that his 2013 season was no fluke, and so far he is making us all believers. This spring, Davis is batting .533 with two home runs and seven runs batted in, right on the heels of his 53 HR season.
One other offensive bright spot is Jonathan Schoop. The 22-year-old second baseman is also batting .533 with a home run and four RBI. It would seem he might be in the mix to start at second base with Brian Roberts, now in New York.
On the other side of the ball, lefty Zach Britton has been pitching well as he shoots for a spot in the rotation. So far in six innings of work, Britton is sporting a 1.50 earned run average with five strikeouts against only two walks.
Starting his first full season with the O’s, Bud Norris has yet to allow a run in five innings and has struck out six batters and walked only one while allowing only three hits.
Newly acquired Ubaldo Jimenez was outstanding in his first bit of work with Baltimore. Jimenez struck out three and walked none in two innings without allowing a hit.
This year is going to be tough, perhaps tougher than the past few seasons. The reigning World Series Champion Boston Red Sox are looking tough as usual; the New York Yankees have rebuilt their team after their offseason spending spree; the Tampa Bay Rays are always strong; and the Toronto Blue Jays are no pushovers. As usual, the Orioles will need contributions from everyone to have a shot at making the playoffs this year, but one noticeable difference this year is that they seem to have the pieces of the puzzle to make it happen.
by Andy Mindzak