Orioles down early, Jones talks about postseason struggles (O’s down 4-3)

Orioles Hall of Famer Scott McGregor threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.

McGregor was on the mound for the final out of the 1983 World Series.

Bud Norris is standing on it today, and he’s fallen behind 2-0 after one inning.

The Royals strung together three straight hits with one out. Nori Aoki punched a single into left field, Lorenzo Cain doubled to right and Eric Hosmer hit a broken-bat bloop single over shortstop J.J. Hardy’s head scored two runs.

The Royals haven’t lost a game in the playoffs and they seem determined to run the table.

Cain showed off his tremendous speed. Not many players score from second base on that hit, especially with Hardy coming so close to the ball.

Norris, who won Game 3 of the AL Division Series in Detroit, struck out Alex Gordon to strand Hosmer at third. He threw 23 pitches, 18 for strikes, in the inning.

ALCS-Adam-Jones-homer.jpgAdam Jones struck out to end the bottom of the first. He’s 5-for-43 with two RBIs, a walk and 12 strikeouts during his postseason career.

Naturally, the subject came up this afternoon as he met with reporters in the interview area.

Q: You told me last week that when you get in trouble as a hitter is when you try to do too much.

Jones: “Right.”

Q: Do you think you’ve been at all guilty of doing that in the postseason?

Jones: “I just think that what I do in the regular season, I think I need to cut back a little bit more in the postseason, the aggression in the regular season. I think it intensifies when the postseason comes on. The strike zone is smaller. Every pitch is that more of importance, and you’ve got to lock in better. It’s the same game, it’s just the focus has to be stronger.”

Jones came to the plate in the sixth inning last night against Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera with two on and no outs. He grounded into a force at third base and Nelson Cruz hit into a double play.

“Herrera, we know what he’s going to do,” Jones said. “He’s going to be mid-to-upper 90s, he’s got a good curveball and changeup. He’s going to come after you with his heater. He establishes that. The ball runs. He’s got a lot of movement on that ball.

“Me and Cruz were trying to have real good at‑bats. Men on first and second, we want to obviously get the runs in, drive the runs in. He made some good pitches. The ball that Cruz hit for a double play, the ball was hit really, really hard. (Alcides) Escobar made a really good play and they were able to turn it.”

The Orioles are seeing another power arm today in rookie Yordano Ventura, who posted a 1.26 ERA in two starts against them during the regular season.

“Ventura is going to come at you. He’s an aggressive pitcher,” Jones said. “I think that’s their whole style. They establish their fastballs and then they work off of that.

“I saw on one of the reports that he now has a cutter. I think you might want to attribute that to James Shields, because that’s one of his bread and butters over the past few years. He has electric stuff. That’s the beauty of it. Their pitching staff, they’ve got good arms over there.

“At 22 years old for him, he’s on a big stage and he’s throwing mid-to-upper 90s with a good curveball and a good changeup. I think we need to make him uncomfortable, get some runs early, and let Norris settle in. And just try and score every opportunity we can because it’s not going to be easy against that pitching staff.”

It just became a lot tougher with Kansas City taking another early lead.

The Orioles can fall back on last night’s experience as they rallied to tie the game.

“Well, we went down 4‑0, had a pitching change,” Jones said. “We said, ‘Now let’s chip away at this. It’s not going to be easy, but let’s chip away.’ We end up scoring one, they score one and we end up scoring three. We kept chipping away.

“That’s how the team was made. We’re down, the game is not over, there’s still a lot of outs to be played. You have (Ryan) Flaherty and then (Jimmy) Paredes trading opportunities to get Delmon (Young) up with the tying run, he gets a hit. We continuously grind and hustle and play the game right to put ourselves in good situations.

“Obviously, we lost last night, but we brought the go‑ahead run to the plate, the winning run to the plate. And against a closer like (Greg) Holland, it doesn’t happen very often.”

Update: As if on cue, Jones lined a two-run homer into the left field seats to tie the game 3-3 in the bottom of the third. He smoked a 95 mph fastball from Ventura.

Norris has thrown 64 pitches in three innings. He gave up three straight hits with two outs in the third to fall behind 3-1. Lorenzo Cain’s infield hit started the trouble. Billy Butler came through with an RBI double.

The Orioles scored in the second without a hit. Ventura walked the bases loaded and Caleb Joseph lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center field.

Update II: We’re no longer tied.

Mike Moustakas hit his fourth home run of the postseason, a two-out shot to right in the fourth to give Kansas City a 4-3 lead. His four homers ties Willie Aikens’ club record.

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