DUNEDIN, Fla. – The Orioles took their “B” team to play the Toronto Blue Jays. The results were Grade-A.
All offseason, the Blue Jays were the “it” team. Everyone talked about the blockbuster trade when Toronto picked up Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes from Miami. The Orioles were scoffed at for their inactivity.
With Buehrle making his Blue Jays debut against a group of second-liners, the Orioles managed a 5-4 win before 3,802 at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on Sunday.
Baltimore is now 2-0, and manager Buck Showalter got to see many of the players who didn’t start Saturday’s game in Sarasota.
Showalter had originally said he wanted the starters to work just an inning in their first start, but after watching Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta each go one, he allowed Jair Jurrjens to go two, and said that would now be the policy this time around.
“A lot of things went well,” Showalter said.
One was a big hit from non-roster outfielder Steve Pearce, who hit a high fastball off Buehrle in the second inning. Another was the fine play at shortstop from Ryan Flaherty, who Showalter has been lavishing praise on so far this spring.
Kevin Gausman made his Oriole debut, allowing a hit and a run with two walks in his 1 2/3 innings. He reached his pitch limit before the final out.
And, Showalter got some satisfaction from Nolan Reimold’s return after missing nearly 10 months. Reimold, who underwent neck surgery last June, was 0-for-3
“I know he’s kind of not thinking about it. He’s frustrated with the right things,” Showalter said. “It won’t be long. I’m not going to think about whether he’s going to be ready until the last week of the spring.”
Reimold said he wasn’t nervous in his first game since Apr. 30. He played right field.
“More excited. Happy to step in the box again. It’s been a long, 10 months, I think it’s been, since I had an at-bat. I just felt good to have it behind me,” Reimold said.
“I worked really hard this off-season to be able to play this spring training so, first game is kind of a milestone. My goal is to be out there during the regular season.”
Buehrle retired the first four Orioles in the second inning before Lew Ford singled and Pearce homered. Danny Valencia and Taylor Teagarden singled, and DeMarlo Hale, who was the Orioles' third base coach last year, but is now Toronto’s bench coach, pulled Buehrle.
Jair Jurrjens, another one of the many contenders for the fifth starter, threw two innings. Jurrjens retired the first five Blue Jays batters before he allowed two hits, a walk and a run.
“I just think I started rushing a little bit. Like I said, sometimes my timing comes and goes in the second inning after two hitters. I tried to work on my pitches and got myself into some trouble, and then after that when I got in the stretch, I lost my timing and started messing up a little bit," Jurrjens said.
Pitching coach Rick Adair told Jurrjens before the game he would pitch two innings. Jurrjens and the others will get many more opportunities this spring before a decision is made.
“He’ll be the first to tell you he was sloppy with his breaking ball, which happens to everybody,” Showalter said. “Obviously facing a pretty good lineup. Good first day for him. He’ll tighten some things up.”
Gausman, who came in to the start the eighth threw fastballs that were clocked as high as 98 mph.
“I’m more impressed with his off-speed stuff, where he was missing,” Showalter said.
Gausman will probably get some more work before he’s sent to minor league camp to start preparing for the season, but he counted this game as something special.
“I was a little amped up there at the start. Obviously, I should be. It was kind of a big highlight in my life, so it was kind of a big highlight in my life, so it was kind of cool,” Gausman said.
He allowed an eighth-inning double to Ryan Schimpf, which annoyed Gausman because the young Toronto minor league outfielder also went to LSU, but didn’t play with Gausman.
In the ninth, Gausman got two outs before former Oriole Adam Loewen walked, and he trotted off the field to accept congratulations.
"I knew that I was on a strict pitch count. They were monitoring me for a reason,” Gausman said.
NOTES: The Orioles play the Yankees at 1:05 p.m. in Sarasota on Monday. Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter, Mark Hendrickson and Pedro Strop are among the scheduled pitchers. New York has listed Vidal Nuno, Bryan Mitchell, Corey Black and Shane Greene.