This American baseball thing must not look too terribly difficult to new Baltimore Orioles pitcher Suk-min Yoon. Pitching for the first time after getting his paperwork aligned, Yoon was the winning pitcher of record in relief against the New York Yankees on Saturday in Sarasota.
Yoon came into a 1-1 game in the top of the 7th inning. He gave up one hit but stranded the runner at first base. Yoon’s fastball was not overpowering, but he demonstrated the changes of speed for which he is known. It will be more interesting to learn more about him as time goes by and future opportunities are present.
In the bottom of Suk-MinYoon’s single inning of work, Delmon Young led off with a double. He was replaced by Jamile Weeks who stole third base, where he was driven home on a fly ball to center field by Jonathon Schoop. This proved to be the decisive run in a 2-1 Orioles victory.
So, how hard can it be to pitch in America when your first experience is a victory over the famous Yankees? Yoon was the MVP in Korean baseball in 2011. But, this is spring training and the team wearing the Yankees uniform really did not have much in the way of real Yankees players in them.
The lack of many recognizable Yankees names beyond Suzuki Ichero and Brian Roberts likely contributed in some measure to what was an outstanding day of pitching for the Orioles. The lone New York run was a top of the 6th-inning leadoff shot by Francisco Arcia – that powerhouse first baseman batting in the nine hole. He was the final batter faced by Chris Tillman, who was in total control over the first five innings – hitting his spots and pitching downhill.
Tillman was followed for an inning by Zach Britton. Though Roberts got a hit through the middle, Britton’s stuff was as good as it has ever been seen – hitting fastballs of 96 and 97, filthy drop pitches and sweeping curves. The Orioles had better not trade him at this point; he looks better than ever.
Darren O’Day had an adventurous 8th inning, giving up a walk and double, yet also striking out the side. And Evan Meek came on in the 9th to earn the save.
On offense, the first Orioles run was a long Chris Davis fly ball to the left of center field. It was one of those where he did not square it solidly, but his long fly balls are sometimes long enough to clear the fences. Honestly, more impressive to me was an earlier hit where he appeared to intentionally inside-out swing a base hit to left field against the over-shift. He appeared to also earlier fail at the same effort. If Davis could frequently break the shifts by doing this and make defenses play him a bit more straight up, it could really add to his average and OBP … though it could probably be successfully argued that teams will gladly give up some opposite-field singles in exchange for fewer balls being powered over the fence.
The Orioles only managed a total of five hits – two each by Davis and Young, along with a nicely-dropped single by Alex Gonzalez.
Check back tomorrow morning for an article that will look at the roster and examine whose chances of making it are rising and falling. Among those falling is apparently Manny Machado, who has had some temporary setbacks this week that make opening day look now like only a very remote possibility.