Shortstop J.J. Hardy appears to be the latest Oriole headed to the disabled list, putting a negative mark on today’s 8-5 win over the Cardinals.
Manager Buck Showalter said Hardy’s wrist is “not good” after being hit in the fourth inning by a 93 mph fastball from Lance Lynn. Hardy came out of the game in the top of the sixth and underwent testing that didn’t bring any relief.
“We took an X-ray here, saw something that concerned us,” Showalter said. “I know he’s got a scan in the morning and we’ll have a little more definitive idea there.”
The ball struck Hardy on the side of the wrist. He stayed in the game after head athletic trainer Richie Bancells checked on him, but Rubén Tejada was on deck to bat for him with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.
“What did we have, four hit by pitches in the series?” Showalter asked. “And none of them intentional. But it doesn’t make you any happier.”
The infield already is missing first baseman Chris Davis, whose strained oblique is likely to keep him out through the All-Star break. The bullpen is missing closer Zach Britton (forearm), setup man Darren O’Day (shoulder) and Mike Wright (shoulder). Utility player Ryan Flaherty (shoulder) also is on the disabled list and performing baseball activities in Sarasota.
Hardy is batting .211/.248/.308 with 11 doubles, a triple, three home runs and 21 RBI in the final guaranteed year of his contract. He had seven hits in his last 22 at-bats.
Tejada could get the bulk of the starts in Hardy’s absence. The Orioles may choose to again purchase Paul Janish’s contract from Triple-A Norfolk. They also have non-roster infielder Luis Sardiñas at Norfolk.
Hardy went on the DL on May 2, 2016 with a fractured left foot and didn’t return until June 18. He was placed on the DL in 2015 with a strained groin, and also has been sidelined with shoulder, back and oblique injuries.
Ubaldo Jiménez provided some good news today with the Orioles’ second quality start in the last 13 games. He allowed two runs, both on solo homers from Stephen Piscotty, over seven innings on a sweltering day at Camden Yards.
“He was good,” Showalter said. “I can’t tell you how few pitchers in baseball would have pitched seven innings in that weather. That was pretty remarkable. Last time he had a short stint in the bullpen, he came back and pitched real well. We’re hoping that happens again. We’re going to need things like that again.
“Really shortened the outs we had to get out of the bullpen, which has been a struggle for us.”
The Orioles provided some early runs for Jiménez, scoring in the first three innings.
“It doesn’t hurt,” he said. “He went back out and gave up the run, then came in after the next time we scored and put a zero up there. Days like that, it takes a lot of discipline to keep pushing because there are so many lures to give in during a day like that. He never gave in. He knew what we needed and he delivered it.
“I can’t tell you the challenge of playing - we basically had a day game yesterday and we’re in a stretch with 20-21 games in a row. Real proud of everybody today. There was a lot of intensity there. Infield play was really sharp today. But there’s a little damper on it from J.J., but we’ll hope for some better news than we thought.”
The Orioles hit four home runs today to give them 10 in the series. Mark Trumbo’s towering fly ball to left field in the fifth inning kept carrying as Tommy Pham tried to camp under it and ran out of room.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve never seen the ball carry like it carried today,” Showalter said. “We benefited, too. The one ball that Piscotty hit out to right field, I turned my head, I was talking to (Wade) Miley at the time. I looked back again and Adam (Jones) was still moving. We have days like that here.
“I agree with Rick Dempsey. I don’t think there is a tougher place to play in the summer for about a month than this place. We’ve been pretty lucky the last couple of years where we haven’t gotten as much of it. But today, that put a challenge on you.”
The Cardinals homered off Vidal Nuño and Miguel Castro in the eighth, a two-run shot for Dexter Fowler and a solo shot for Yadier Molina, to reduce the lead to 8-5 and force Brad Brach into a save situation. Brach also came into yesterday’s game, but threw only 11 pitches.
“They’re going to make a run at you,” Showalter said. “The weather and the way the ball is carrying, if you had told me after the first inning that we were only going to give up five runs, I would have been real happy with that. I feel like we would have been in the game.
“I thought Castro had a couple of key outs. There was some of that ... People know we’ve had some struggles in that situation, and when he came in and got a couple of quick outs, it made up for a solo home run. It made Brad have to pitch.
“Brad has had a lot of rest, so he’s ready to go. He only threw 11 pitches and shortened the end of the day. So, he’s really been efficient. I don’t know where we’d be without Brad. We try to keep everybody in mind that we have 94 games left.”
They’ll be a lot more successful if the Orioles can string together quality starts, the kind that lead to the standing ovation that Jiménez received after the seventh.
“He may not admit it, but there’s kind of a mental edge there. ‘Hey, I’ve taken a step back and the club needs me to deliver something,’” Showalter said.
“I think part of it, quite frankly, he knew there wasn’t someone that could pitch in the third or fourth inning. There is. We would do that. But for us to have a chance to win today, he was going to have to pitch six or seven innings. We had to use Mike (Givens) to win the game yesterday. There’s a cause and effect to everything.”