Hardy won’t use elbow as an excuse

J.J. Hardy’s home run streak ended at two games last night. So did his streak of two-hit games.

Hardy went 1-for-4 to leave his average at .211. He has six hits in his last four games and eight in his last seven.

It’s not good enough for Hardy, of course. He batted .238 last season and he expects to do better.

Hardy has a mild case of tennis elbow, and he received a cortisone injection from Dr. Lewis Yocum Sunday in Anaheim. It’s his left elbow, so it doesn’t impact his throwing, and Hardy won’t use it as an excuse for his struggles at the plate.

“I had it last year at some point and I ended up getting a shot. I think it was August, and it really helped,” Hardy said. “I was starting to kind of get it again, and rather than letting it get too bad, I just wanted to take care of it.

“Hitting and fielding, like squeezing the glove, check swings and stuff like that hurt, but it wasn’t affecting me. It was just a nagging little, not fun to deal with type of injury.”

Hardy quickly dismissed the suggestion that his elbow has caused his average to dip.

“I think of the eight or nine seasons, or however many I’ve played, I feel like eight or nine of them have started like this,” he said. “I think there was one year where I got off to a good start. I don’t blame anything on that.

“I feel like it’s 125 at-bats. If I got four hits tonight, I’d be hitting .260 and it wouldn’t be a big deal. But right now, it’s a difference of like four or five hits. I’m not stressed or worried about that.

“The elbow’s fine. It wasn’t something that was affecting me.”

He’s still as reliable as ever in the field, and occasionally spectacular. His diving stop and throw to retire catcher Salvador Perez and end the fourth inning was a gem.

Since July 29, 2012, the Orioles have the best record in baseball at 61-33 and the best home record at 31-13.

The Orioles improved to 8-3 in the first game of a series, 17-5 when they score four runs or more, and 14-7 when scoring first. They’re now 5-0 on Tuesdays, but only 1-4 on Wednesdays.

The Orioles are 8-1 this season when they turn at least two double plays.

Also, the Orioles have scored nine of their last 12 runs with two outs.

And finally, please join me in wishing my father a happy birthday. Heroes can occasionally disappoint. Mine never did. I’m blessed to have such a close relationship with him.

Here’s to many more years together.

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