It’s becoming a common sight with Adam Jones at the plate. If he hits a home run, the ball is going to right or right-center field.
His shot to right-center in the first inning tonight off Boston’s Jake Peavy got the Orioles started toward a 4-0 win before 19,729 at Camden Yards.
Why the opposite-field approach?
“You know me. I don’t know,” said Jones, who notched his 150th career homer. “Seeing the ball deep and hitting it. I don’t know. I don’t ask questions.
“It helps. I’m trying to use the whole field. I’m trying to not limit myself to just pulling the ball. That’s how I get in trouble. Just trying to use the whole field. If it’s in, try to pull it. If it’s away, try to stay on it. Not rocket science, but some sort of science.”
Jones served as the designated hitter tonight, an attempt by manager Buck Showalter to provide a little rest. It’s still a weird feeling for him.
“A little bit, because I’m still bored and I don’t know what to do, but I’ve learned over the years how to handle myself,” Jones said. “You figure it out. That’s the name of the game, making that adjustment. Between innings, I try to figure out what to do. Go run or go on the bike or do something to occupy that time, but still pay attention to the game.”
Showalter enjoyed watching Bud Norris pitch tonight.
Norris worked a season-high eight innings and blanked the Red Sox on three hits to lower his ERA to 3.94.
“We needed a well-pitched game,” Showalter said. “We had bullets down in the ‘pen, but Bud was really good. I probably would have given him a chance to finish that game. He had a blister, a pretty good blister going on underneath his nail. Didn’t like the way it was starting to look.”
What made Norris so effective against the Red Sox?
“Changeup,” Showalter replied. “We talked a lot about the changeup in the spring and he and Dave (Wallace) put in a lot of work. I thought that third pitch... I told you all before, Orel Hershiser used to talk about one pitch to compete, two to win and three to dominate. I wouldn’t say he was dominant, but that third pitch kind of put his game at a different level.
“Really commanded the fastball, too. Got some early outs, didn’t really get in a lot of deep counts. I thought that was fun to watch. He was a lot more entertaining, I can tell you that.”
Tommy Hunter retired the Red Sox in order in the ninth on 10 pitches in his first game since coming off the disabled list.
“I think Tommy, if you look at his background and history, when he’s had some adversity and had a little DL period, he’s usually come back pretty strong. So, I think he can be another weapon for us down there,” Showalter said.
Nick Markakis extended his hitting streak to 14 games and swatted his sixth home run of the season. He’s batting .379 during the streak and .417 in the first inning this season.
“Nicky’s just a consistent human being,” Showalter said. “You look at him as a husband and a father and a teammate and an Oriole, it’s not surprising to anybody that he’s a consistent player. He doesn’t have this roller coaster of emotions, but believe me, there’s a real fire burning inside him and most of it has to do with wanting the Orioles to win.”
Markakis’ power is gradually coming back. In the meantime, he’s batting .312 this season.
“It’s almost a consistent thing,” Showalter said. “Nick will take what they give him, as evidenced by tonight. But he’s real hard to play - in the era of all these shifts and everything that’s going on, where do you play him? You’re always trying to find a little advantage. There’s not just one way to pitch him and one way to stay. You can’t stay in all the time, you can’t stay away, you can’t go up. You can’t stay breaking ball all the time. You can for a little while.
“He goes through some periods like all of us, but you always feel like with him, tomorrow is the day he starts over again.”