Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter termed the event a "controlled scrimmage." The opponent used pitchers (including left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada) and a catcher from the Orioles roster. Major league stars such as J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters took only a couple of turns apiece at the plate and played about five innings. And the adversaries played for eight innings total, not a full regulation game.
With that context — perhaps you call it "spin" — understood, there's no other way to put this: A community college team beat the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.
State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota chapter, edged the O's 2-1 in a charity game at Ed Smith Stadium. The O's look like a charity case, all right. If this were European soccer, or if baseball did relegation, Nick Markakis might be carrying a book bag and a class schedule around Camden Yards this spring. And he didn't even play!
Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel, who has logged 734 career innings in the majors, allowed two runs and three hits over five innings to the Manatees. Those sweet, lovable manatees. SCF freshman Orlando Rivera — a freshman! — went 2 for 3 with a stolen base, scoring the eventual winning run on a wild pitch in the fifth inning. Hammel said very little about the experience to MLB.com:
"I got my work in, so let's leave it at that," said Hammel.
I'd just back away from him. Slowly.
And if that college's name is familiar, you might remember their team beating the Pittsburgh Pirates three years ago. But that was against rookies and minor leaguers, mostly. This game had real Orioles in it. Not that the Manatees are going to gloat, with the O's taking over for the Pirates this season to keep the charity game going. (It's still going, right?)
FCS assistant coach Tim Hill II told the Bradenton Herald his team was grateful that "Showalter played all of his guys," including the battery for the Manatees.
"I would not claim it as a 'W,'" he said. "For us, we're so down on pitching right now with four conference games this week. Fortunately for us, they were very understanding. ... The game is all about pitching and defense. So for them to be able to provide the pitching was nice. But at the same time, I thought our guys handled the baseball."
The Orioles finished last in the AL East a season ago, and have fallen on hard times the past decade or so after being a model franchise throughout the '60s, '70s and early '80s. While one game lost to a community college does not a season make, this loss doesn't bode well for escaping the basement.
Ah, the heck with all that, Rivera says:
"A 'W' is a 'W'," he said. "Even though we didn't have our own pitchers, a 'W' is a 'W' ... You gotta take the 'W'."
Take it. Enjoy it. Cherish it. But next season, just expect a check in the mail from the O's to cover the charity proceeds.
Big BLS H/N: Getting Blanked
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