CLEVELAND—Do the Orioles have a new leadoff hitter? For at least a few days, it’s Adam Jones.
After four straight losses, and a boatload of strikeouts, manager Buck Showalter decided to bat Jones in the leadoff spot.
Jones, who had been in a 3-for-39 slump, had three hits in five at-bats as the Orioles beat the Cleveland Indians 6-4 before 21,054 at Progressive Field on Friday night.
Showalter says that it’s more than likely he’ll bat Jones in the leadoff spot again Saturday. For his first time there since May 10, 2010, Jones did well.
“The problem when you do something like that, as a manager, what are you going to do tomorrow if he’s 0-for-5 with five punchouts? Where are you going? You always try to leave yourself a little bit of wiggle room,” Showalter said.
When he was asked if he had made a decision on Saturday, Showalter deflected the question.
“I hadn’t gotten that far. It’s been a while. Can I just kind of suck this one in a little. No, more than likely. I gave him four options today. Of course, I had already made out the lineup. We both picked the right one,” he said.
In the previous three games, the Orioles struck out 52 times, and it was a relief to see only six K’s on the team’s scorecard.
The Orioles’ first four-game losing streak of the season is over.
“Well, the thing we’ve been focusing on the last four games is Ws and Ls,” Showalter said. “Everything else is, we’re trying to get to an end game of winning a game with the Orioles having more runs than they’ve got after nine innings.”
The Orioles (27-19) scored three runs in the first when Jones led off with a single up the middle. Hyun Soo Kim was hit by a Trevor Bauer pitch. Manny Machado’s single to center scored Jones. Chris Davis walked to load the bases.
After Mark Trumbo and Nolan Reimold struck out, Jonathan Schoop’s single scored Kim and Machado to give Mike Wright a 3-0 cushion before he faced a batter.
Wright gave up a run in the second on back-to-back doubles by Jose Ramirez and Juan Uribe. Mike Napoli hit a long home run, his ninth, in the fourth.
Machado led off the fifth with a double to center, but he unwisely tried to make it a triple when the ball escaped Rajai Davis. Davis’ throw nabbed Machado, and Reimold’s single was wasted.
Wright didn’t make it out of the fifth. Chris Gimenez began the inning with a walk, Davis singled, and Carlos Santana walked to load the bases with none out. After Jason Kipnis struck out, Francisco Lindor’s fly to right scored Gimenez to tie the game at 3, and Dylan Bundy replaced Wright.
“It was terrible. When you score three in the first, you should shut out, shut out, shut out, every inning after that. I should never walk anybody. I should continue to be aggressive,” Wright said.
Bundy (1-1) got four outs for his first major league win, nearly three years after his June 2013 Tommy John surgery.
“It’s taken four years I guess to get to that point, but it’s still exciting. I actually didn’t know I got the win until some of the teammates told me in the clubhouse, so it was fun,” Bundy said.
In the seventh, Machado doubled and scored when Davis doubled. Trumbo hit an opposite field home run to right off Zach McAllister (2-2), and the Orioles had a 6-3 lead.
Brad Brach pitched a scoreless seventh, but Lindor led off the eighth with his fourth home run off Darren O’Day to cut the lead to 6-4.
After the home run, Napoli walked, Ramirez doubled, and Uribe struck out. Lonnie Chisenhall was walked intentionally to load the bases, and Gimenez hit a ball that looked as if it was going to right field, but Schoop snared it, and threw to Machado to begin the artful double play that ended the eighth for Cleveland (25-21).
Zach Britton earned his 13th save with a scoreless ninth.
The losing streak is over, and mass strikeouts were averted.
“We’re not afraid to strike out. They’re going to come. More than that, it was some of the pitches we took and gave ourselves another chance to get a better pitch to hit, and I think when we did get something to work with, we put it in play and found some holes, too,” Trumbo said.
NOTES: Machado has 19 doubles. … O’Day has allowed four home runs so far this season, one below his total for the entire 2016 season. … Ubaldo Jimenez (2-5, 6.04) faces Danny Salazar (4-3, 2.32) on Saturday afternoon at 4:10 p.m.
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