From the 82 degree temperature to the nine total errors and 32 total runs scored between the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, it couldn’t have been more clear that it was springtime at Charlotte Sports Park on Saturday.
The Orioles won, 17-15, in a three-hour and 46 minute marathon that left Rays manager Kevin Cash at a near loss for words.
“I don’t know if words can really describe what just took place the past four hours,” he said. “Just an ugly day.”
Despite the sloppiness of Saturday’s game, Rays player Brandon Lowe crushed a home run 448 feet — nearly identical to the one prospect Nate Lowe hit on Feb. 27 that landed on the roof of the minor league facilities building beyond the outfield boardwalk.
In fact, it was so eerily similar that Brandon couldn’t help but say something about it to Nate as soon as he came back to the dugout.
“I found him and said, ‘Who’s went further?’ And he laughed and of course said his, so I have to believe him,” Brandon Lowe said.
However, both home runs were tracked at 448 feet by Rays analytics, with Brandon’s rolling out to 576 feet while Nate’s rolled out to 567 feet. Either way, it’s safe to say both Lowes have made an impression on the Tampa Bay coaching staff.
“Man, what a day,” Cash said. “(Brandon has) knocked the cover off the ball this spring. It’s good to see.”
But Brandon Lowe’s moonshot would be far from the only ball to clear the fences as Rio Ruiz, Ryan Mountcastle and Martin Cervenka homered for Baltimore while Jake Cronenworth and Kean Wong joined Lowe in leaving the yard.
Perhaps even more impressive than the steady supply of home runs and RBIs were the defensive errors in the field.
When the Orioles opened up the scoring with an eight-run second inning, seven of those eight runs were charged as unearned to Rays pitchers due to bad throws that Yandy Diaz couldn’t pick out of the dirt.
Baltimore also had its fair share of misplays, too.
Leading 14-9 in the seventh inning, the Orioles committed five errors — three from Cervenka and two from shortstop Jack Reinheimer — as five Rays players came in to score and tie the game at 14-14 as hearty “Let’s go Rays” chants finally broke out.
However, the Orioles promptly added two runs in the eighth and held on for good, putting to end a day that most players are probably dying to forget.
But for some players, like Brandon Lowe and his 2-for-3 day, there were things to build on going forward as spring steadily creeps toward a close.
“I just want to make sure that I’m building on each day, especially right now in spring training,” Lowe said.
“You know, none of this matters, which is good to a certain extent. You’re getting all your feels, you’re seeing pitches and all that stuff. I want to build off each day and make sure tomorrow is better than today.”
Rays Roster MovesWhile there was plenty of action on the field for the 3,383 in attendance, there was also some action off the field as the Rays made their first round of spring cuts.
Optioned to the minors are: INF Christian Arroyo, OF Jesus Sanchez, RHP Brent Honeywell, 1B/OF Joe McCarthy and RHP Ian Gibault.
Reassigned to minor league camp are: SS Lucius Fox, LHP Matt Krook, LHP Dalton Moats, C David Rodriguez and RHP Curtis Taylor.
Now, Tampa Bay has 31 pitchers, 5 catchers, 14 infielders and 7 outfielders remaining.
The moves reduced the Rays roster to 57 players and creates a slightly clearer picture of what the 25-man roster will look like at the end of March.
Scary SightsRays shortstop Willy Adames had a rough fifth inning as he couldn’t escape the path of the baseball no matter where he went.
After he was first hit in the side of the helmet with a breaking ball — causing the helmet to go flying — Adames eventually made it to third base. Standing on third, he was nearly hit again as a foul line drive from Jason Coats whistled by mere feet away.
Having fun with the misfortune, Adames playfully laid behind third base as if to hide from another ball coming his way.
“You see that? (Rays third base coach Rodney) Linares, he called it,” Adames said.
“He said, ‘Watch out, he’s gonna hit a line drive over here.’ Then, next pitch, boom it almost hit me too. So I was like, ‘Coach take me out of the game.’”
Then, Nick Solak had his own scare in the bottom of the ninth — taking a fastball off the middle of his helmet. Though he looked to be OK, he was taken out as a precaution.
“I think he’s fine,” Cash said. “Obviously we’ll get him checked out right now. Paul Harker was down there. Good thing he was down there with his experience to check him out. He feels good about it, but we’ll check him out.”