Simon strong through third, more on Hardy (updated)

Alfredo Simon has retired the first nine batters he’s faced tonight, striking out two in the third inning. He fanned Ezequiel Carrera on a 94 mph fastball.

J.J. Hardy celebrated his contract extension, which becomes official after he passes his physical, by leading off the bottom of the first with a double, hustling to third base on Nick Markakis’ fly ball to left field, and scoring on Adam Jones’ fly ball to center.

Orioles 1, Indians 0.

Markakis was asked earlier today about Hardy’s new three-year deal.

“It means a lot,” he said. “You guys watch him play, you know what he brings to the table. I get the opportunity to play with him. I appreciate what he does at the position he’s at and the position he got put in the lineup. He’s done a great job filling in for B-Rob (Brian Roberts). You know what you’re going to get out of him every day. He plays the game hard and he plays the game right. You can put him anywhere in the lineup pretty much. He’s an all-around ballplayer and he’s a guy you want on your team.

“It definitely means a lot to the club, the organization and most of all the fans. They’ve been here longer than I have and all the guys in this clubhouse. They deserve it more than anything. We’re working, we’re trying to climb that mountain. We’re on our way. It’s only a matter of time.”

Manager Buck Showalter didn’t want to say much until it becomes official.

“Until the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted and the physical ... I’m sure there’s some language with this, that and the other. I’ve had two or three of those in the same time frame that fell through because of something,” he said.

“Obviously, J.J. is playing shortstop at a very high level and we’ll see. I talked to J.J. about it today and I don’t know what he said to you guys, I think he’s taking a physical tomorrow. I’d rather wait and not jinx it. I’m very supportive of it. I hope it happens.”

Update: Simon gave up a leadoff single to Michael Brantley in the fourth, but a double play and strikeout have allowed him to face the minimum number of batters.

The Orioles increased their lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth on Nick Markakis’ leadoff double and Derrek Lee’s two-out single. Lee was thrown out trying to score from first on Mark Reynolds’ double. Third base coach Willie Randolph sent him, and Lee was an easy out.

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