Dan's Dugout: Red-Hot O's Win Battle of Birds • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Red-Hot O’s Win Battle of Birds


JUPITER, Fla. – Buck Showalter might have an ace up his sleeve.

Orioles players warm up before beating Cards 1-0 in Jupiter. Credit: Dan Schlossberg

Kevin Gausman, who started and won Thursday’s day game at Roger Dean Stadium here, helped Baltimore to its seventh straight Grapefruit League win, a rare 1-0 triumph against the hard-hitting St. Louis Cardinals.

The Battle of the Birds was settled early, on a solo home run in the second inning by Jonathan Schoop, who also homered during a win over the Yankees Wednesday.

Schoop now has five spring training home runs, a high total for a veteran who rarely plays more than half a game at a time, and looks ready to resume his role as Baltimore cleanup man behind thirdbaseman-turned-shortstop Manny Machado. The O’s will also get plenty of pop from Adam Jones, who joined Schoop as a long-ball producer in the Yankee game, and Mark Trumbo, who has batted injuries this spring. Chris Davis could be good for a 40-homer season.

But the key for the Birds will be pitching – or lack of it.

Showalter spent the winter scouring trade and free agent possibilities, finally agreeing to deals that added Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, both probable starters, plus former Mets set-up man Josh Edgin, a lefthander.

Buck Showalter is in his ninth year with Baltimore

Gausman will have a heavy burden on his shoulders. He tied Chris Archer of Tampa Bay for the most starts in the majors (34) last year and is counted on to maintain his second-half momentum.

From July 19 through the end of the season, he went 6-5 with a 2.70 earned run average that was seventh-best in the majors during that span. Although he finished 11-12 with a 4.68 ERA, Gausman fanned a career-best 179 men, including at least eight in a game nine times.

With Opening Day two weeks away, the Orioles are in the process of cutting their roster to the 25-man limit.

Among the slew of non-roster players who started 2018 spring training in the O’s camp are versatile Danny Valencia, slugger Pedro Alvarez, and ex-Cardinal outfielder Colby Rasmus.

Showalter will soon be making more decisions than Judge Judy.

Oriole players signed for fans before facing Cards at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter Credit: Dan Schlossberg

Now in his ninth season with Baltimore, the pilot was so desperate for pitching help that he waived his own rule about facial hair to land Cashner’s signature. The deal was a compromise: the righthander has to keep his beard neatly trimmed.

Showalter has plenty of experience: he’s in his 20th season as a field general, with previous stints in Texas, Arizona, and the Bronx. He’s second to Earl Weaver as the managers with the most wins in Orioles history.

His right-hand man will be Roger McDowell, starting his second season as Baltimore pitching staff.

Since Baltimore plays in the same division as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays, the Birds face a formidable challenge. They also face the challenge of keeping several prospective free agents, including Machado and Jones.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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