Hardy, notes, the bullpen and other random facts

I’m not going to predict whether shortstop J.J. Hardy returns to the Orioles lineup tonight. We keep hearing that he’s expected to play, and then he winds up on the bench. But I like his chances in the second game of the series against the Blue Jays.

Maybe I am predicting.

Hardy was supposed to work out Thursday and start last night. Instead, he underwent an MRI and had a cortisone injection, and he didn’t play. That’s why I’m hesitant to make any declarations. I may be scarred for life.

Seven of the Orioles’ first 10 games have been decided by two runs or fewer. They’re a combined 3-4.

The Orioles have dropped their last three series openers since winning their first game on March 31.

The Orioles lost a game last night in which they allowed three hits or fewer for the first time since June 7, 2009 against the Athletics. It’s happened 48 times in franchise history.

Last night marked the Orioles’ first multi-error game of the season. They had 10 games with multiple errors in 2013.

Funny how I didn’t realize that they committed only one error before last night. I must have been distracted by the Hardy back spasms, David Lough’s concussion tests and Jemile Weeks’s brief appearance in New York, the concerns over the rotation, the early offensive struggles and the daily updates on Manny Machado.

Those are my excuses. And I’ve got a whole bag of ‘em if you need me to keep going.

The bullpen tossed another scoreless inning last night. Ryan Webb retired both batters he faced in the ninth, and Zach Britton needed only two pitches to get rid of Adam Lind.

Orioles relievers have allowed only nine earned runs in 28 innings. Also a distraction.

Chris Tillman keeps taking the heat off the ‘pen, going 8 1/3 and eight innings in his last two starts.

It’s not the most flexible unit when it comes to minor league options. Britton, Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz, Darren O’Day and Josh Stinson would need to pass through waivers before being sent down. Same with Troy Patton when his 25-game suspension is completed.

Webb and Evan Meek have options. That’s it.

Webb signed a two-year, $4.50 million contract over the winter. The idea is to keep him on the roster. He’s not viewed as a shuttle guy who’s going back and forth from Triple-A Norfolk to Baltimore, though desperate times could alter that plan.

The Triple-A rotation offers all kinds of flexibility. Kevin Gausman, T.J. McFarland, Steve Johnson and Mike Wright can be called up and optioned without passing through waivers. Suk-min Yoon can be optioned this year, but not over the next two years.

Did you know that the Double-A Bowie roster is represented by seven countries? The United States, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba and Curacao.

Yes, that was a random note, but you should be used to it here.

Here’s another one: Preston Guilmet, acquired from the Indians this week for minor league outfielder Torsten Boss, worked two scoreless innings last night to pick up the win for Norfolk. No hits, no walks, four strikeouts.

Shameless plug alert: I’m appearing on “Wall to Wall Baseball” from noon-2 p.m. on MASN before heading to Camden Yards.

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