Leading off with Markakis

The Orioles faced Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester on opening day and right-hander John Lackey last night. They’re scheduled to face left-hander Felix Doubront tonight in the final game of the series.

The lineup will keep changing.

Nelson Cruz figures to start again in left field, as he did on Monday, with Delmon Young or Steve Pearce serving as the designated hitter. Jonathan Schoop most likely will start at second base in another duplication of the opening day lineup.

markakis-from-below-white-blue-sky-sidebar.jpgNick Markakis remains a constant atop the order. He’s expected to lead off against Doubront, as he’s done versus Lester and Lackey.

Before last night, Markakis was a career .325/.372/.436 hitter in 89 games while batting first in the lineup. He singled in the bottom of the first inning.

How has he adapted so smoothly to the role?

“One, because he doesn’t mind doing it,” said manager Buck Showalter. “Some people use it as (an excuse). I don’t think I’ve ever had a club that didn’t dwell on where they hit in the order like this one. I hope it’s because they kind of trust what we’re trying to get done.

“I asked Nick in the spring, ‘In a perfect world, where would you want to hit in the order?’ Of course, I ask just about all of them, with some exceptions, just to get their input on it. You can imagine what Nick’s response was. ‘I don’t care. Whatever you need me to do.’ Then, I kept going back. ‘Gun to head, and you could pick. You’re the owner of the club. What would you do?’ That kind of gives you an idea.

“I think Nicky embraces it. Also, he knows that he’s going to get, if he does it all year, about 50 more at-bats. I think he likes that. And I think he also looks at who could be hitting seven, eight, nine for us. You’ve got some people down the bottom of the order who are getting on base, it bodes well for a leadoff hitter who can drive the ball through the alley.”

Can Markakis maintain this level of success atop the order?

“We’ll see,” Showalter said. “He’s never done it over a full season. Yet to be seen whether he’ll do it this year over a full season. He might present some things, or say a David Lough might present some things we might like better in a different spot.”

Markakis is 4-for-10 lifetime against Doubront. Chris Davis is 6-for-15 with a double and home run.

Adam Jones is 2-for-17 with eight strikeouts. Matt Wieters is 1-for-16 with 10 strikeouts.

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