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Orioles plan on taking another power trip to AL playoffs

Orioles plan on taking another power trip to AL playoffs

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles have found a formula for success, and they're sticking with it.

Hit the long ball, play solid defense, close out the game with your outstanding bullpen. For three of the past five years -- including last season -- that's gotten the Orioles into the playoffs.

That's the plan for 2017, too.

With defending major league home run champ Mark Trumbo, slugger Chris Davis and hard-hitting Manny Machado leading the way, Baltimore hopes to have enough power to compensate for a starting rotation that lacks depth and experience.

Former first-round picks Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy stand atop a rotation that will start the season without ace Chris Tillman, who's nursing a shoulder injury that will keep him on the disabled list through opening day. Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (8-12, 5.44 ERA) and lefty Wade Miley (9-13, 5.37) are coming off lackluster seasons, and if they don't rebound the Orioles might find themselves in a whole lot of high-scoring games.

If that's the case, then Baltimore will need another prolific season from a lineup that led the majors in long balls and had five starters hit at least 25 home runs.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette brought back Trumbo as a free agent during the offseason after doing the same with Davis one year earlier. Why bother with bunts and stolen bases when you can get three runs with one swing of a bat?

"That's the way we like it," manager Buck Showalter said. "It fits us perfect."

If Baltimore's starters can keep the game close for six or seven innings, the bullpen can win it. All-Star closer Zach Britton was brilliant last season, compiling a 0.54 ERA and converting every one of his 47 save opportunities while operating behind standout setup men Brad Brach and Darren O'Day.

Quite by design, this team looks very much like the one that went 89-73 last year.

"That's really nice when you walk in for a new season to have a lot of the same group," Davis said. "And not only the same group, but a lot of guys have been together for five and six years."

MORE ORIOLES: Zach Britton hopes to duplicate great 2016 season

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Three things to look for during the Orioles first spring training game Saturday

Three things to look for during the Orioles first spring training game Saturday

Baseball isn’t quite in full swing yet. But it’s close enough. 

The Orioles will open up their spring slate of games on Saturday against the Braves in North Port, Fla. It’s both the first game of spring training for both teams. 

The game can be listened to on Orioles.com or on the MLB At-Bat app. 

So here are three things to pay attention to during the first game of the spring: 

1. The starting pitching

The pitching was, to be frank, atrocious last season for the Orioles. 2020 doesn’t figure to showcase a large jump, either. 

Baltimore will start Chandler Shepherd against the Braves, a pitcher who started three games last season in Baltimore. He allowed 23 hits and 14 earned runs in 19 innings pitched and posted a 6.63 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP.

Ty Blach will pitch in relief of Shepherd. Blach pitched in five games last season for the Orioles and threw 20 ⅓ innings with an ERA 11.32. 

While neither will likely make the Opening Day roster, it’ll give an interesting look at what could be in store for the rest of spring training in Sarasota. 

2. How much the prospects play

For most major league clubs, there’s not much to get excited about for the first few games of spring training. The Orioles, though, are in a bit of a unique circumstance. 

In the second year of a rebuild, the Orioles are placing their future in the hands of younger prospects, meaning there’s always a chance for a few players to stand out in the first weeks of camp. 

While the lineups aren’t known yet, both for Saturday’s game and for the immediate future, getting a glimpse at some of the younger prospects like Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, Gunnar Henderson, and DL Hall is what fans have been clamoring for. 

3. The return of baseball

It’s not the return of baseball in the truest sense of the phrase.  

The Orioles aren’t going to play their top of the line prospects, or their major league club. But the first game of the spring means that baseball, officially, is back for Baltimore. 

Even though the 2020 season almost assuredly won’t be one that resembles any kind of contention, the Orioles hitting the field once again is always an exciting time.

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Orioles vs. Red Sox spring home opener: Time, TV Channel, How to Watch

Orioles vs. Red Sox spring home opener: Time, TV Channel, How to Watch

For the Baltimore Orioles, the focus isn't on the players who have already reached the major leagues, but rather on the players who are still working to get there.

Spring training presents a unique opportunity for fans to catch a glimpse of what the future will look like. They'll get their first look Sunday when the Orioles host the Boston Red Sox for their Grapefruit League home opener on Sunday.

Baltimore will kick off their spring training schedule against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday, but that game won't be televised in the DMV. So fans will have to wait until Sunday before the O's grace their television sets.

Here's everything you need to know before first pitch Sunday afternoon.

Orioles vs. Red Sox Spring Training Home Opener: How to Watch

Who: Baltimore Orioles vs. Boston Red Sox
What: Grapefruit League home opener
When: Sunday, February 23, 2020 at 1:05 p.m. ET
Where: Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, FL
TV Channel: You can watch Orioles vs. Red Sox on MASN

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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