SARASOTA, Fla. – This was the day that Chris Davis turned 30, and in his honor, the Orioles wore green uniforms.
They actually didn’t wear green to celebrate Davis’ birthday or mammoth new contract, but for St. Patrick’s Day.
“I feel pretty good today. I feel like I’ve got a little spring in my step,” Davis said.
He had some spring chasing after Byung Ho Park’s foul pop. Davis snared it after running toward the stands behind first base.
Davis also had to enjoy Mike Wright’s start. Wright threw five scoreless innings and was the first Oriole to even pitch into the fifth.
Wright gave up two singles in both the first and fourth, struck out two and didn’t walk a batter as the Orioles beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 before 6,872 at Ed Smith Stadium in the second half of a split-squad doubleheader.
In the afternoon portion, the Orioles lost to the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers 9-5.
This week, the Orioles have been playing much more crisply and after failing to win their first 12 games, have won four and tied one of their last seven to improve to 4-12-3.
“As we get closer to the bell, there’s a time you get engaged in the preparation and then you get engaged in the competition,” manager Buck Showalter said.
“They get tired of all the preparation.”
Two of those wins have come against Minnesota, and in both the Orioles allowed just one run.
Showalter enjoyed playing a night game without the heat and the wins that contribute to inflated scores. He was pleased with Wright, who in his last start, gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Yankees.
“Normal condition game, attacked the zone. I thought Caleb [Joseph] did a real nice job of slowing him down,” Showalter said.
In Wright’s four starts, he has an ERA of 5.40.
“I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve felt. I felt really good, but I have my last three starts – every single one of them felt pretty good,” Wright said.
In the first inning, the Orioles turned a double play to help Wright.
“I’ve had a lot of times when I’ve had a guy on first or first and second and really needed a double play and it just hasn’t seemed to happen, so for that to come, especially right there in the first, was huge,” he said.
Unlike others, Wright doesn’t like to say he’s experimenting with a particular pitch.
“Usually, the guys that are working on stuff, they have a spot. And I don’t have a guaranteed spot, so to get the results is huge, because even though you’re doing your part – you’re making your pitches – if you’re giving up runs, it doesn’t look good to put you on the roster. To get the results is good for confidence and it makes me feel better going home tonight,” Wright said.
Earlier this week, Showalter noted that there were not five set starters.
“I felt like that ever since I came in. Everything’s a competition, even if there were five set spots, there was no telling what happens. For me not to come out here and compete would be not good for myself or the team, so I was coming out to compete ever since Day One. I don’t think anything’s changed since he brought that to light,” Wright said.
Adam Jones had three hits and raised his average to .346. His fourth inning home run gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead. He drove in the second run with a sixth inning double. Mark Trumbo’s single scored the third.
Brad Brach and Mychal Givens followed Wright with scoreless innings. Darren O’Day gave up Minnesota’s only run in the eighth.
Davis was hitless in his first game as a 30-year-old.
“I won’t necessarily freak out. I mean, if you call waking up crying in your bed freaking out, I guess. I think people were like, ‘Forty is the big one.’ Like 30 doesn’t (matter). I feel like 30 is a big deal, Davis said.
“To me, it just sounds older. I think really in the baseball world it’s a little bit older than it is in the real world, so to speak. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. If I have to come out of the game because I’m cramping up or something like that, or my hip starts hurting, I’ll let you guys know.”
NOTES: Showalter said that he will cut at least two players on Friday. …Miguel Gonzalez pitches against CC Sabathia on Friday in Tampa as the Orioles play the New York Yankees.