CHICAGO — Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he kept Nolan Reimold out of the starting lineup for Monday’s series opener against the White Sox partially as a precaution because the Orioles leftfield had been dealing with a nagging leg cramp.
That seemed to be news to Reimold when the starting lineup was posted before Monday’s game.
But for the third time in this young season, Reimold managed to play a key role in the late innings -- this time in the Orioles’ 10-4, 10-inning win.
After coming in to Monday’s game as a pinch hitter for Endy Chavez in the seventh, Reimold hit a solo homer to lead off the ninth off Chicago closer Hector Santiago, crushing a 95 mph full-count fastball over the left-field fence.
The home run, which was followed by Adam Jones’ game-tying shot later in the inning, gave the Orioles another injection of life in the late innings.
The Orioles were down 4-2 at the time and down to their final three outs, but Reimold has been the perfect guy to have at the plate in those times.
He’s homered in his last three games, each time in the ninth inning. (He also homered in three straight games his rookie year May 26-28, 2009.) His two-run shot Saturday was the winning blow in the Orioles’ 6-4 comeback win in Toronto. His solo shot on Friday was insurance in another come-from-behind win over the Jays.
“We were only down two runs,” Reimold said of the Orioles mentality going into the ninth. “It just takes a bloop and a blast. We were able to get two of them, tie the game up and than we got guys on and got em in extra innings when it really counted.”
In each all three of these games, the Orioles trailed heading into the eighth inning.
And in many ways, the 28-year-old Reimold, this year getting his shot to prove he’s an everyday major leaguer, has been the catalyst of some riveting comeback from the leadoff spot.
Jones said he’s seeing Reimold coming into his own.
“He’s feeling good,” Jones said. “We are trying to get him in a crazy attitude of ‘who gives a [damn]’ and it’s slowly starting to work. He’s a work in progress, we are really trying to get him to maximize his opportunity. He’s one of the most talented athletes I’ve seen. He’s fast, strong, he just has to have that mindset that he can do it and he can.”
Asked if he plans on hitting any homers before the ninth, Reimold chuckled.
“Good question,” Reimold said. “I’ll take ‘em anytime. Anytime they come is fine by me, I’m sure good with everybody. Anybody likes to hit a home run anytime.”