Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Conor Jackson Helps Orioles to 6-6 Tie with Blue Jays; Jeff Francis Thorws Four Strong Innings as Colorado Wins

Players of the Day for Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Grapefruit League

Conor Jackson
The Yankee-Red Sox rivalry may be the stuff of legend, but the two teams to watch in the AL East this season may be Baltimore and Toronto.

Those two squared off in exhibition action Tuesday afternoon, the result a 6-6, 10-inning tie which, fittingly, settled nothing.

Conor Jackson continued his hot hitting, going 3-for-3, with a single, double and a solo homer.

Jackson, acquired by the Orioles after spending last season in the minors, is making his case for staying in the majors, batting .421 with three long balls and six RBI in just 19 at-bats. The O's are giving him an extended look in an attempt to bolster their outfield. Adam Jones and Nick markakis have center and right fields locked down, but left field is still a wide open competition.

Along with Jackson, Lew Ford and Chris Dickerson are among the top candidates for the position.

Cactus League

Francis: 4IP, 0R, 1H
The Colorado Rockies are hoping to make 2013 a season in which the memories of 2012 are forgotten, and, to do so, they'll need much better pitching than what surfaced last season. The Rockies had the highest ERA in the majors: a whopping 5.22 mark.

A step in the right direction was provided by starter Jeff Francis, who threw four shutout innings, allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out four in Colorado's 6-3 win over the still-searching Cubs.

Francis, 17-9 in 2007 for the Rockies, hasn't had a winning season since. Last year's mark of 6-7 included a 5.58 ERA in 24 starts. He threw just 113 innings, allowing opponents a .316 batting average, so Tuesday's win - his first of the Spring - was a refreshing change. A lefty hurler, Francis could be key to Colorado's mound turn-around.

The Cubs fell to 5-7, while the Rockies improved to 6-5.

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