The Orioles are 3-0 this season when the opposing starter works seven or more innings.
Those starters? Jon Lester, Justin Verlander and Masahiro Tanaka.
The Orioles batted .354 in the three games at Yankee Stadium to raise their team average from .229 to 274. They were 12-for-32 (.375) with runners in scoring position to raise their average from .231 to 296.
Matt Wieters has hit safely in his first eight games, the third straight year that an Oriole has hit in eight or more games to open a season. Adam Jones hit safely in nine straight to open 2013 and 10 straight to open 2012.
Davey Johnson holds the club record for longest hitting streak to start a season at 17 games in 1971.
Delmon Young is batting second again tonight. He’s a career .333 hitter (44-for-132) in that spot after going 6-for-11 in New York.
Orioles designated hitters lead the majors with a .394 average and 1.110 OPS and rank second with nine RBIs. Last year, they ranked ninth in the American League with a .234 average, eighth with a .704 OPS and 12th with 69 RBIs.
Manager Buck Showalter has no issue with an opposing pitcher using pine tar to improve his grip on the baseball, as New York’s Michael Pineda did last night.
“You mean guys are cheating in baseball?” he quipped. “There are so many different sides of that. For one, let’s face it, there are some archaic things about what we do with baseballs. I was over in Japan and the balls were white. They come out white out of the box and they have a tacky finish on them, so you don’t have different degrees of darkness like we have now. I was very impressed with their equipment and the things they do over there, their bats, their catching equipment. So they never have that need, that lure, to use something. But here, we’re playing and it’s 40 degrees, and I know there’s a lot of hitters hoping (the pitchers) are using pine tar so they can grip the baseball. They’re not doing it necessarily to gain an advantage. They’re doing it so they can grip the baseball.
“Try tonight. I’ll give you a ball and let it sit in a bag for seven innings. I’m going to flip it to you and let you try to hold it when you’re cold. So you’ve got to understand why it’s happening. When you think about how we’ve done the baseballs over the years compared to Japan. That’s one of the big adjustments our guys have coming over from the Asian countries is the baseballs. It’s not the size or the threads. It’s being able to grip it. That’s why you don’t have as much of an issue as you get further into the season. So there are two sides to that.
“Do I want to call you on it and now you can’t grip the baseball and now you’re going to hit one of my guys in the coconut? I don’t like that. Is it making the curveball tighter or the slider better? If you’re a changeup pitcher, do you want your hands to be sticky? No, you don’t. So, there’s a lot of variables to it. But everybody looks for some way to grip the baseball better because the way it is now, it’s really hard. Why do hitters have pine tar and pitchers don’t? It’s legal, right?”
Showalter said shortstop J.J. Hardy is “more available” tonight than previous games.
“He came in and did about all his work early,” Showalter said. “We talked to Dr. (Michael) Jacobs, with that injection he had yesterday. Did an MRI. The MRI turned out pretty good, so they injected it. Usually, there’s a 24-hour period to let the medication do its work.
“Just thought it’d be prudent after talking to Dr. Jacobs and everybody to get the full effect. He’s available to play tonight and I would use him if I have to.”
Showalter doesn’t sense that Hardy is becoming anxious over the games missed.
“Not with J.J.,” Showalter said. “He knows the length of the season. Very mature about it. He’s dealt with this before, in a more serious nature than this one. He knows how important it is to take care of it completely so it’s not an issue for the rest of the season. He knows how important is to to get this resolved and we think with one more day, we should have it resolved completely. “
Hardy is tired of providing daily updates, but he’s being a good sport about it. He walked out of the video room this afternoon and told me that his back still felt good, and he would provide another update once he arrived at his locker. He was smiling the entire time.
Showalter said David Lough also is available tonight after undergoing concussion tests on Wednesday, but he’s not necessarily convinced that the outfielder’s health issues - he experienced dizziness and eye floaters again, same as spring training - are completely behind him.
“I wouldn’t say that about anybody,” he said. “I’m not convinced. All that stuff can come back. It’s just not a normal thing to do to your body. You’re going to have some wear and tear. We just want to be on the safe side with it and see where we are.
“I talked to David about it today. I’ve feel like I’ve got an understanding of what’s going on, and we’ll take it day by day.”
Lough isn’t scheduled to undergo more tests.
“Not yet,” Showalter said. “We feel like with the testing that they did, and now we’ve seen a couple of people about the concussion symptoms, we feel like we’ve got a pretty (good) consensus there, and David does, too. We’ll see if there are any other challenges that present themselves with it.”
One challenge for Lough was getting back to New York for Wednesday night’s game.
“It cost him $100 to get through the red lights,” Showalter said. “I said, ‘You don’t have to pay a guy in New York to do that. He would have done it anyway.’ I also said, ‘Did you wear your uniform here?’ I was expecting him about 9:40. He showed up like 9:20-something in uniform. I thought he might wear his uniform on the train.”