Who cleans up mess in fourth slot?

Need a reason to feel optimistic about tonight’s game? Tommy Hunter has made one career start against the White Sox, back on July 3, 2010, and he held them to one run over seven innings.

Adam Jones collected his 70th RBI last night in the Orioles’ 113th game, putting him on pace for 100 RBIs this season. He would become the third center fielder in club history to reach the century mark. Name the other two. (Answer below. No fair looking it up.)

Felix Pie had two more hits off Gavin Floyd, making him 9-for-14 (.643).

A.J. Pierzynski is batting .352 with five doubles, five homers and 16 RBIs in 122 career at-bats at Camden Yards.

If you missed Mark Reynolds’ diving catch in the third inning last night, it’s probably being replayed every hour on SportsCenter. It’s definitely worth a look.

Reynolds robbed Paul Konerko after Jo-Jo Reyes issued a leadoff walk to Alexei Ramirez. He was fully extended, almost planting his head in shortstop J.J. Hardy’s ribcage.

Josh Bell will have a tough time getting off the bench unless Vladimir Guerrero is given a night off as the designated hitter. Bell, Reynolds or Chris Davis could occupy that role.

Manager Buck Showalter was asked yesterday whether the game is moving a little too fast for Bell at this level. Showalter reminded reporters that Bell has made a few spectacular plays at third, including the barehanded pickup of Juan Pierre’s bunt in the ninth inning Monday night. Bell also made a diving stop and strong throw from behind the bag to record another out.

“You see him make plays to his right that not many people get to,” Showalter said. “He’ll make some plays as good as you want to see made, and then some of the routine balls that we deem as routine ...

“I think as he gets older, some of those plays that people deem as more routine than the good plays he makes will be a little more routine for him. But if you stand out there, the word ‘routine’ really doesn’t come to play in the major leagues.”

Perhaps the Orioles send Bell back to Triple-A Norfolk so, yes, he can play every day rather than sit on the bench here and have his development stunted and blah blah blah.

The Orioles were retired in order in the second inning, making them 0-for-36 in that frame since July 29. And I don’t have a logical explanation besides some quality pitching (Brandon Morrow, Ricky Romero, John Danks and Floyd in the last four games) and injuries to Hardy and Davis that further weakened the lineup.

I’m not picking on Guerrero, but he often leads off the second inning as the cleanup hitter.

Guerrero swung at the first pitch he saw from Floyd last night and grounded to third. He also swung at the first pitch in the fourth inning and singled into center field.

Sometimes, it works.

Nick Markakis only advanced from second to third because he started to break back to the bag, thinking Guerrero’s liner might be caught. Davis and Reynolds struck out.

It’s not just the big things that hurt the Orioles. Lots of little ones, too.

Another example: The Orioles scored three runs in the fifth to reduce Chicago’s lead to 4-3. Chris Jakubauskas survived a two-out walk in the top of the sixth to keep the margin intact. So what happened next? The Orioles went down in order on only five pitches.

It would have been smarter to make Floyd work a little harder, to give Jakubauskas a little more time to catch his breath. That’s just common sense.

Former Orioles left-hander Will Ohman replaced Floyd with a runner on third and two outs in the seventh, and he struck out Markakis to end the threat.

Ohman stood on the field near the home plate entrance during batting practice Monday afternoon and yelled up to the press box. After getting my attention, he rolled up his right sleeve and flexed.

Good one, Will.

He asked one of the reporters standing next to him whether I was wearing a “smedium” shirt.

I miss that guy.

Going back to Guerrero, he was 0-for-15 before that single in the fourth inning. He struck out in the eighth after Jones’ leadoff walk. He has two home runs since July 6.

If Showalter pulls the trigger and lowers Guerrero in the order, which we’ve been anticipating since the break, who takes his spot behind Jones?

Could it be Jones? Or is it a bad idea to move him from the third slot and tamper with his success?

Could it be Reynolds, who leads the team in home runs and second-deck shots?

Too soon for Davis? He certainly looks the part if you’ve seen him in a sleeveless T-shirt. His arms are wider than the Bromo-Seltzer Tower - and more visible from the ballpark.

I’d be tempted to keep Jones third and bat Reynolds fourth despite the high strikeout totals. It doesn’t have to be a permanent arrangement.

Reynolds is a career .242 hitter while hitting fourth - his second-highest average in any slot - with 42 homers and 96 RBIs in 582 at-bats.

I’m open to suggestions.

Here’s the answer to my center fielder question: Brady Anderson (110 in 1996) and Mike Devereaux (107 in 1992).

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