Brian Roberts snapped a 1-for-18 streak last night with a game-tying RBI single in the second inning. He was back at second base after serving as the designated hitter in three of the past four games.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has been easing Roberts back onto the field since the hamstring surgery and extended absence. Ryan Flaherty was getting the bulk of the starts at second in Roberts' absence. Alexi Casilla would get some starts against left-handed pitching.
Asked if he's comfortable with how he's using all three second basemen, Showalter replied, "No."
"It's not a perfect world," he said. "Comfortable? I was trying to kind of break Brian in little by little and not take anything for granted, but I think you're going to see him, as he gets more comfortable about where he is physically, you'll see more and more of him on the field. I think we've kind of gotten through the period of how he is physically.
"I don't care how much you rehab. There's a different level up here. Hopefully, he's going to be able to handle it. I think he will."
Roberts is 4-for-28 since coming off the disabled list. He was 5-for-12 in three games before the injury.
"We talked about it a little after the game," Showalter said. "Brian just wants to come up and contribute. He doesn't care if he's hitting 10th or playing center field, whatever. He knows we have confidence in him, and him in us. He just wants to be a contributor for us, regardless. He's pretty sincere about it. 'Whatever you need me to do.' There's no ego involved in this, and we know he's capable of helping us."
So, Roberts will basically become the regular second baseman?
"I hope so," Showalter said. "I hope it evolves into that. I also want to keep Casi and Ryan involved and I'll continue to do that. You all know that. They have some skills, too, we want to take advantage of, and Brian knows that, too."
Flaherty was swinging a hot bat before Roberts' return. He's been on the bench with the Orioles facing three left-handed starters in Chicago, Andy Pettitte on Saturday and two southpaws in the first two games of this homestand.
The Orioles should embrace anyone who can make solid contact.
As Showalter pointed out, the Orioles have scored nine runs in their last two games. However, Roberts is scuffling, Chris Davis is 1-for-21 with 12 strikeouts and Nolan Reimold is 3-for-14 since coming off the disabled list. Manny Machado went 4-for-24 on the last road trip before heating up again the past two games.
Adam Jones' average is down to .288 after he went 0-for-4 last night, the second-lowest of the season. It dipped to .287 on Friday, got back up to .291 on Monday and headed south again.
Jones batted .237/.248/.386 in 28 games last month.
As I tweeted last night - a shameless plug for @masnRoch - the Rangers are 11-for-21 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of this series, while the Orioles are 3-for-19. The Orioles are 8-for-58 with RISP in their last nine games.
Of course, the starting pitching must get better, but the offense no longer is covering for it. And that's a big problem.