The Baltimore Orioles New Team Strength: Corner Outfielders


Apr 6, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) over throws the ball to first base as Baltimore Orioles left fielder Alejandro De Aza (12) is safe during the first inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

How are the Baltimore Orioles possibly going to replace Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis? That was the big question and largest concern over the offseason. It is the loss of those players that has the Orioles rated over and over in one source after another as a .500 team at best.

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So, Orioles, how’s that working out for you so far?

Very well, actually!

You’ve probably heard by now that the O’s won their season opener over the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-2 on Monday afternoon. Along with excellent starting pitching from Chris Tillman who went 6.2 innings, the players of the game were the corner outfielders: Travis Snider and Alejandro De Aza … as well as Steve Pearce, another corner outfielder playing first base on this occasion.

In the first inning, De Aza did what leadoff guys are supposed to do – get on base and score runs. He did so by speed, causing the Rays’ starting pitcher Chris Archer to throw the ball over the first baseman’s head on a grounder (see photo above). De Aza would score on Snider’s single that beat the shift – love seeing that!

De Aza would open the game up with a two-run shot to give the O’s a 3-0 lead. This was on the 10th pitch of an at-bat – another skill exhibited at the plate. As well, he would later in the game cut off a double in deep left-center field that would save a run from scoring – an additional run that would have, at that point, cut the O’s lead to 5-3. That now-forgotten fellow who played left field and homered in the opener last season would have never gotten to that ball … just sayin.’

Snider not only drove in the first run of the game and season, he also doubled home the fifth run for the Birds while gathering three hits. He threw out a runner at the plate on a one-hopper and also made a diving catch.

Both corner outfielders have nice, quick swings; they are going to be fine. The Orioles are going to be fine. I figured it would be a year, or two at the most, that we would be fine with seeing Cruz and Markakis gone; but maybe it happened in the first game of the season?

Steve Pearce Confuses Me

I have to confess that I’ve never been more wrong about a player than Pearce. I would have given up on him long, long before he broke through in 2014. I still can’t see how it does it. He does not look the part of a contributing player. Pearce looked really bad in this first two at-bats, but then he suddenly drops the bat head on a pitch and sends it out of the park. Beyond that, he made what might be the oddest baserunnning play of the season in scoring on Snider’s double. May the confusion continue!

One Caveat … Actually Two …

Have to say it – the Rays are not a very good team at all. Some of these unfamiliar names may figure it out and put together enough to win some games. But they look especially bad in the field. And final proof is yielding a home run to Ryan Flaherty on a 0-2 count for the sixth run in the ninth inning. It actually cost Zach Britton a save, so even when he does something right, it is wrong! Just kidding. Maybe. Probably not.

The worst performance of the day?  Home plate umpire Dana DeMuth – horrible strike zone. Major League Baseball has got to do something to get strike zones fixed.

Next: The Orioles are historically a great season opening team