So, what’s he doing in today’s lineup against Toronto right-hander R.A. Dickey?
Drawing a walk and hitting a home run.
The splits tend to go out the window when a knuckleballer is on the mound. Manager Buck Showalter inserted Valencia in the lineup and has been rewarded.
Valencia is a career .231 hitter against right-handers, compared to .318 vs. southpaws. But 19 of his 27 career home runs have come against right-handers, including today’s shot into the second deck in left field.
Down at Norfolk, Valencia was hitting .324 with six homers against left-handers and .301 with five homers against right-handers.
Right-handers were batting .250 with two homers against Dickey this season heading into today’s game, compared to .211 with seven homers for left-handers. Right-handers are batting .275 against Dickey in his career, compared to .249 for lefties.
Valencia also homered into the second deck last night. He flied to deep center field in his third plate appearance today, leaving his average at .333.
The Orioles recalled Valencia because they wanted another right-handed bat after placing outfielder Nolan Reimold on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. Valencia is primarily a third baseman who also plays first, which means he’s going to primarily be a designated hitter with the Orioles.
Nick Markakis extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the fourth inning.
Freddy Garcia finally registered his first 1-2-3 inning in the fourth. He’s held the Blue Jays to two runs over four innings, but he’s also given up seven hits and thrown 78 pitches.
He’s also sweating profusely, but that happens as soon as he steps out of the shower. Sometimes while he’s still in it.
Update: Garcia is done after five innings and 103 pitches. He allowed three runs (two earned) and nine hits, with no walks and one strikeout.
I actually sweat while he pitches. Strange, I know.
Steve Johnson, working on about five minutes of sleep, struck out two batters in a 10-pitch sixth inning.
The last three Orioles starters have gone five innings after a streak of four straight quality starts.
Adam Jones homered in the seventh to give the Orioles a 6-3 lead, the ball slamming off the facing of the third deck. He was Dickey’s final batter.
Jones has homered in three straight games.
Update II: The Blue Jays scored twice in the eighth, with both runs charged to Johnson, who struck out five in 2 2/3 innings.
Darren O’Day let an inherited runner score with two outs. He’s allowed at least one hit in 10 of his last 13 outings.
Johnson threw 45 pitches. Does he stay or do the Orioles need to bring up another reliever?
Tommy Hunter and T.J. McFarland will be available on Sunday, which could spare Johnson a return trip to Norfolk.
Jim Johnson will attempt to secure his 15th save.
Update III: Johnson picked up his first save since May 10, and Garcia got his first win as an Oriole.
Orioles 6, Toronto 5
Johnson retired the side in order on a ground ball, soft liner and strikeout. That’s two straight 1-2-3 innings since the three blown saves.