Quick takes

A couple of quick thoughts for an off-day and night. Feel free to leave your comment and/or question.

* Matt Wieters was an All-Star and J.J. Hardy had a great run at bat for a while there and has been stellar at short, but Adam Jones has been the Orioles best player this year.

Over the last nine games, he is batting .333 with five homers and 11 RBIs. His second half OPS is 1.074. He said the other night how he really wants to have a big second half. Buck Showalter has often talked about the passion he is playing with this year.

A year or two ago Jones talked about wanting to become one of the team leaders on the Orioles. It was too soon for that then, but with his play and intensity this year, maybe now the time is right.

* The Orioles' starters are finally starting to pitch well and with the expected return soon of Zach Britton, maybe that bodes well for the rest of the year. The starters have posted five straight quality starts with an ERA of 3.21 and an ERA of 3.88 over the last eight games.

They have put together six quality starts in that eight-game stretch after producing just eight in 37 games from June 1 through July 15.

* Despite their loss on Sunday, which I saw in person, the Double-A Bowie Baysox are a team on a roll and pushing for first place.

Bowie is 17-5 in July with a 3.30 team ERA, a team batting average of .302 and averaging 5.9 runs per game in the month.

That last stat is big. The team has gotten solid pitching most of this year. When the hitting took off, so did this team.

In July, Xavier Avery is batting .302, LJ Hoes .313, Pedro Florimon .338 and Greg Miclat is batting .397 with 12 steals in 12 attempts this month. Joe Mahoney is batting .309 with four homers, 20 RBIs and an OPS of .894 in July.

The Bowie bullpen continues to shine and two starters are throwing real well this month. Michael Ballard is 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA in five starts and Tim Bascom is 3-0 with a 1.69 in four July starts.

Led by a strong staff with manager Gary Kendall, pitching coach Kennie Steenstra and coaches Denny Hocking and Einar Diaz, the Bowie Baysox have put it all together.

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