Roberts back in the swing of things (Matusz X-rays negative, Reynolds HR)

Brian Roberts received a nice ovation tonight as he walked to the plate for his first Orioles at-bat since May 16, 2011. Many of the fans stood and applauded. It’s far from a packed house, but they made a lot of noise.

Roberts looks a little different wearing a specially designed batting helmet with ear flaps on both sides to provide extra protection, but the swing is the same.

Roberts ran the count full against Pirates starter Brad Lincoln and lined a single into center field, bringing another ovation and putting the tying run on base after the Orioles fell behind, 1-0, in the top of the first inning.

J.J. Hardy lined to third baseman Pedro Alvarez, and Roberts slid into first base to avoid being doubled up. He didn’t dive, which is significant.

Roberts said earlier today that he’s been diving for grounders at second during his minor league rehab assignment, but he hasn’t gone head-first while hustling around the bases. It’s going to happen eventually, when instinct takes over, but not yet.

Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen retired the first two Pirates before Andrew McCutchen reached on an infield hit along the third base line. Casey McGehee walked and Matt Hague delivered an RBI single.

What looked like a clean and easy inning for Chen turned into a 23-pitch battle that ended with the Orioles trailing early.

Brian Matusz received X-rays on his nose at 6:30 p.m. and we’re still waiting to learn the results. He’s sitting in the dugout.

It’s a good sign that the Orioles didn’t immediately place him on the disabled list, but let’s see how he’s looking and feeling in the morning.

Update: X-rays on Matusz’s nose came back negative. He’s diagnosed with a “nose contusion.” That’s a bruise to you and me.

Still no word whether he starts tomorrow, but that’s the assumption.

Update II: Mark Reynolds hit a two-run homer with two outs in the second inning to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

Reynolds has four home runs this season, only two since May 5. He was in an 0-for-12 slump before tonight.

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