SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles won 93 games last year and went to the postseason for the first time in 15 years, taking the New York Yankees to a fifth game in the division series.
The teams met for the first time since last October on Monday. The Yankees brought only one player who appeared in that fifth game, center fielder Brett Gardner, while the Orioles lineup was populated by familiar names.
Baltimore won its third straight to start spring training, 5-1 over New York. It’s the second time in three years they’ve begun spring training with three consecutive wins according to STATS LLC.
Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis each had two hits and Brian Matusz pitched two scoreless innings, but manager Buck Showalter isn’t getting too excited about the start.
“It’s way too early,” Showalter said. “There are some things I’m happy with.”
In their three spring games, the Orioles have outscored their opponents 15-8.
“We’ve pitched pretty well so far. If we do that, you’ve got a chance in spring training early on. Arms are usually ahead of the hitters a little bit,” Showalter said.
Roberts and Markakis, the two most senior Orioles, were injured and missed the postseason. Matusz, who was reinvented as a left-handed reliever last August, started and allowed two hits to a Yankees lineup that featured only two regulars — Gardner and catcher Francisco Cervelli.
“It was nice to get out there and get the first one out of the way, kind of get in the rhythm again. It’s been a while since I’ve been a starter. It’s nice to work on the routine again and try and find that,” Matusz said.
In 2011, Matusz had a horrifying 10.69 ERA — the worst for any starting pitcher with 10 or more starts. After a rocky beginning to 2012, the Orioles sent him to Triple-A Norfolk in July, and a month later, he returned to become a key member of the bullpen down the stretch.
At 26, Matusz feels he’s far too young to be stereotyped as a bullpen guy and wants to be considered for the Orioles’ starting rotation.
“It was nice to be able to go two and get a base and something to go off of,” Matusz said.
Gardner had three hits for New York, which lost Curtis Granderson on Sunday for 10 weeks with a broken right forearm.
Without Alex Rodriguez and Granderson, the Yankees are missing plenty of home run power, and manager Joe Girardi was blunt: Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera, two possibilities to replace Granderson, who both played on Monday, aren’t power hitters.
“We’ve talked about we’re probably not going to hit as many home runs as we did last year,” Girardi said. “We have more speed, so the guy that fills in is going to be another speed guy, and you score runs more that way. We’re going to have to rely on our speed more, no doubt about it. How this guy, whoever he is, fits in, we’ll have to see. we really don’t know.”
Left fielder Nate McLouth drove in two runs for Baltimore.
NOTES: Yankees RHP Mariano Rivera threw 32 pitches during batting practice in Tampa on Monday morning. Rivera told reporters that he’s doing well, and that he will next pitch a simulated game. Rivera has yet to pitch in a game after tearing his ACL in his right knee last May. … New York LHP CC Sabathia, who is recovering from offseason elbow surgery, also threw batting practice, and he’s now throwing all of his pitches. … Baltimore LHP Tsuyoshi Wada threw his first bullpen session from a mound since undergoing Tommy John surgery last May.
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