Ryan Flaherty picked up a hit in his fourth consecutive game tonight with a leadoff single in the top of the third inning.
Flaherty has only one hit in each of those games, but the modest streak includes two home runs. He’s also driven in four runs.
At least for now, manager Buck Showalter is continuing to start Flaherty at second base against right-handers. He gave Omar Quintanilla the start at shortstop while keeping Flaherty in the lineup.
It’s a little strange seeing J.J. Hardy leaning on the dugout railing while the Orioles are in the field, but he played in 50 straight games before getting the night off. And his right shoulder still aches on occasion, just as it did all the way back in spring training.
Hardy tends to wear down if he isn’t rested. Quintanilla provides the Orioles with a suitable backup while Robert Andino is on the disabled list.
Meanwhile, Tommy Hunter has a tough act to follow tonight, beginning with himself and extending to the other four starters.
The Orioles have posted five straight quality starts for the first time since April 28-May 2 against Oakland and New York, and the rotation is 5-0 with a 1.87 ERA over the span. The last time they had six straight quality starts was May 10-15, 2011 against Seattle and Tampa Bay.
Hunter could use a little more offensive support, a statement that I’ve seemed to make about practically every pitcher who’s stepped on the mound this season.
In Hunter’s last 12 starts combined, the Orioles have scored 34 runs while he was in the game. Eleven of them came in his June 14 start against Pittsburgh.
The Orioles have scored two runs or fewer in seven of Hunter’s last 12 starts while he’s been in the game.
Hunter has thrown 20 of his first 27 pitches for strikes through two innings.
Hunter made two outstanding plays in his last start, and he hustled to first base in the first inning tonight to scoop up a ball that deflected off Chris Davis’ glove and beat Jason Kipnis to the bag.
Where did this cat-like quickness come from?
Adam Jones was 2-for-17 lifetime against Indians starter Justin Masterson before his leadoff double in the second. Jones got caught in a rundown with one out on Wilson Betemit’s bouncer to the mound.
The Orioles are going for their first four-game sweep in Cleveland since September 24-26, 1971. (They played a doubleheader on the 24th.)
The last time that the Orioles won four games in Cleveland in one season was 1992.
Update: Shin-Soo Choo hit a two-run homer in the third inning to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead.
Choo connected with two outs after Casey Kotchman reached on a scorching ground ball that deflected off Davis’ glove. The play was ruled a hit, though Davis would probably be the first to admit that he should have fielded the ball cleanly. It was in the webbing of his glove and he took a few steps toward first before realizing that it was rolling behind him.
Davis has failed to make two plays at first base in three innings.
Hunter has allowed 22 home runs in 91 1/3 innings.
Update II: Quintanilla, who built his reputation with his glove instead of his bat, drove in Flaherty with a two-out double in the fifth to slice the Indians’ lead in half. Flaherty was hit by a pitch before Quintanilla stepped to the plate.
Quintanilla collects his first hit and RBI as an Oriole. He had never faced Masterson before tonight.