Adam Jones may have had another of what Buck Showalter calls “emotional at-bats” last night.
After failing to produce the winning hit in the ninth inning Wednesday against New York, he came up in a key spot in the top of the eighth last night. The Orioles were trailing Toronto by a run at the time and had runners on first and third with one out.
Jones struck out on a pitch down and in against Darren Oliver. He tried to stop his swing but couldn’t and went down with on a strikeout with a very weak swing.
But before that, Jones was 3-for-3 in the game. His RBI single in the fourth gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead and his solo homer in the sixth - a blast that traveled 432 feet - tied the game at 4-4.
Sure, Jones didn’t come through in the eighth, but he did before that and before long I see Jones coming up with plenty of key hits in late-game situations. He might be a little too keyed up in those spots right now, but Jones going 3-for-3 earlier in the game was a nice bounceback performance from his last chance on Wednesday night.
I see Jones as the player on this team most likely to take his game to a higher level this year and think he is poised to have a real big season. He delivered several times last night. Soon, I bet, we’ll see him start coming through more often in situations late in the game like he was in on Wednesday and Friday.
Some other notes from last night:
* While Orioles starter Tommy Hunter did give up four homers, they all were solo shots, and he did keep his team in the game and pitch into the seventh inning. The Orioles are now 2-0 in his two starts, so he’s been on the mound for half the club’s wins.
Hunter has now given up a whopping nine homers in three career starts over 19 1/3 innings at Toronto and has an ERA of 6.98 in those outings.
* O’s starters have now pitched to an ERA of 3.05 through seven games. They have recorded three quality starts and pitched six innings or more five times, allowing four earned runs or less in every start so far. The Orioles’ bullpen ERA is now down to 2.78 after three scoreless innings Friday.
* A win today would give the Orioles their first series win in Toronto since September 2010. They have lost seven consecutive series there, were 4-23 the last three years there and had lost 29 of their last 34 games at Rogers Centre until this win.
* Entering last night’s game, the Orioles were batting just .180 as a team with runners in scoring position. But they went 3-for-6 in the win, getting Wilson Betemit’s key two-run single to take the lead in the eighth.
Toronto, which had been batting .362 with runners in scoring position, went 0-for-6 in the game last night.