The Orioles won their fifth straight series opener on Monday night against the Oakland A’s, but they have failed to win the series on each of the previous four occasions. This will come as no surprise, but that formula needs to change now if the O’s really want to get back in the playoff race.
It will begin tonight with Ubaldo Jimenez taking the mound and trying to bounce back from his Ubaldo-like performance against the Mariners in which he allowed six earned runs. Jimenez finished with 11 strikeouts and only allowed three earned runs the last time he faced the A’s and the team needs him to perform like that again.
It is often said that you can just look at the back of a player’s baseball card to figure out how he will finish the season. It’s amazing how true that is for Adam Jones. Despite a little dip in average the last two years, we pretty much know Jones will finish with a batting average of .280 and home runs in the upper 20’s. After a four-hit performance on Monday, Jones is now batting over .280 and has a strong chance to finish the season with at least 30 dingers.
Jones continues to stay in the lineup even if he is clearly playing banged up and maintains the same approach whether he is batting first, second or fourth. I still marvel at Jones’ ability to hit for a strong average despite never walking 40 times in a season. Like Manny Machado’s three home run performance against the Angels, games like last night from Jones will need to be duplicated by the other hitters over the final six weeks in order for this team to be serious playoff contenders.
GulfBird Photo/Craig Landefeld
The Ultimate Teammate
I’m probably looking too much into it, but it speaks to the atmosphere of the Orioles clubhouse that Buck Showalter has instilled and the person J.J. Hardy is when I see him helping Tim Beckham improve defensively before games. Beckham has clearly taken Hardy’s job, but the veteran has put his ego aside to pass on his knowledge in order for the team to win now.
Outside of a few games that he will play when he returns, Hardy’s very successful Orioles career has come to an end. It will be interesting to see if he latches on with another team next year, but I’m sure he will end up in some coaching capacity down the road.
Hardy will always be remembered for helping turn this franchise around and it’s just another reminder that the core that brought this team back to relevance is slowly breaking up. We have seen Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters leave in recent seasons and following this year, Hardy and Chris Tillman will more than likely follow with next year being another season in which many of the players we have watched the last few seasons departing.
The O’s may not win a World Series, but they did make baseball fun again in Baltimore.
Hardy was a huge reason for that.