This afternoon, the Orioles defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, Fla, 1-0.
Once again, the pitching came through strong for Baltimore as they shut out a Philadelphia team with several of their everyday players in the lineup.
Brian Matusz was stellar on Saturday, throwing four shutout innings. Obviously, one cannot take a lot from a Spring Training start – especially in the second week; however, consider the hellish year that Matusz had in 2011, his outing raised eyebrows in a good way. He struck out four, allowed three hits and walked none.
Matusz is not a lock to make the 25-man roster right now, but his strong showing on Saturday undoubtedly improves his stock. I still believe unless Matusz becomes Bob Gibson re-incarnated, he may probably start the season off in Norfolk (Triple-A), and go from there.
As well, pitcher Alfredo Simon – whose role on the Orioles might be in question the closer Opening Day approaches – hurled three scoreless innings. Luis Villarreal and Miguel Socolovich – who got the save – each tossed a scoreless frame.
It's funny, so far the pitching -- an area that many thought might be a problem for the Orioles -- has done well so far in March. Fans can not take a lot of what happens in Spring Training as a sign of things to come on Opening Day; however, seeing solid performances from potential starters is a step in the right direction.
Baltimore’s sole run came in the fourth inning as Chris Davis hit a monster homer off Philadlephia pitcher Scott Elarton.
Finally, for Chris Davis – who is hitting .308 in Grapefruit League action – will have to take the next step in his major league career once the season kicks off in April.
Davis – who is a strong, hulking guy that might fit well on a football field – needs to hit with some consistency in the majors. Overall, he is a .252 hitter with 44 homers and 137 RBIS in 297 games played; however, he only has a career on-base percentage of .301 and has whiffed 341 times (!!) in only 1005 at-bats.
From what I’ve seen, he can hit in the minors. Sadly, he lost his spot in Texas and got traded to Baltimore after injury and the emergence of Mitch Moreland. It looks like Davis is the everyday first baseman with the Orioles and will be given every chance to hack it in the majors.
I’m a little concerned with him and Mark Reynolds in the same lineup on a team that does not have much patience at the plate; however, if Davis hits with power, more than his body weight, and drives in runs, fans can live with the strikeouts.
The Orioles needed a first baseman for the future, and David might fit the bill if he performs at the plate.