Notes: Orioles historically bad with runners in scoring position Wednesday afternoon

  • Adam Jones reacts after he lined out to end the third inning with a runner stranded on third Wednesday.
Adam Jones reacts after he lined out to end the third inning with… (Ray Stubblebine, Reuters )
August 01, 2012|By Zach Helfand | The Baltimore Sun

NEW YORK — For only the second time since the Orioles moved to Baltimore, they went hitless in at least 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position in Wednesday's 12-3 loss to the Yankees.

Like Tuesday, the runners, the instruments for another comeback, were there for the Orioles. It started in the second, the same inning in which the Orioles scored seven runs Tuesday and never looked back.

On Wednesday, they drove in just one in the inning, on a ground out.

Two runners got aboard in the third, and another pair was on in the fourth, and then again in the fifth. And the sixth. And the seventh. By the eighth, when the Orioles got a double from Endy Chavez to drive in a runner from first base, they already trailed the Yankees by nine runs.

The Orioles finished with 13 hits but were 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position. The only other time an Orioles team went that many such at-bats without a hit was Aug. 21, 1995 in Seattle.

"The positive thing was, we were getting the hits to get people on. We just weren't getting them in," said shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was 3-for-4 on the day. "We could have made it a lot closer, for sure, if we had gotten a few more hits with those runners on."

The team's struggles Wednesday were a continuation of its season-long issues with runners on base and in scoring position.

The Orioles stranded a runner on base in every inning except the ninth and left 11 runners on base overall. The game was the ninth out of the last 23 in which the Orioles failed to get a hit a with runner in scoring position.

The Orioles have gone hitless in that scenario in 34 games this season, and in 22 more, they have recorded just one. Tuesday's 6-for-14 performance with runners in scoring position in an 11-5 comeback win was an aberration.

"Happens," center fielder Adam Jones said of the struggles with runners on base. "It happens with the game. You can't always drive them in, you always want to, but you can't always do it. So you tip your cap to the guys and move on to the next series."

Wieters in the lineup

Manager Buck Showalter decided not to give catcher Matt Wieters the day off on Wednesday, even though it was a day game following a night game. Wieters went 2-for-4 before being replaced by Taylor Teagarden in the bottom of the seventh.

Showalter has been trying to give Wieters some rest, and catchers frequently get a day game off when it is preceded by a game the previous night.

If the Orioles did not have a scheduled off day Thursday, Showalter said he likely would have given Wieters the extra rest.

"Plus, we've got 58 games left," Showalter said. "Matt's a good player."

Wieters has batted surprisingly poorly in contests following a game off. He has hit just .189 in such games, with three home runs in 37 at bats.

Wieters has only had two breaks of two or more days this season — July 27 and 28 and during the All-Star break. He is 3-for-8 in the two games following a multi-day break.

Quintanilla causing problems

Second baseman Omar Quintanilla is becoming a problem for the Orioles, and that's OK with Showalter.

The Orioles acquired Quintanilla from the Mets mainly for his defense after injuries to second basemen Robert Andino and Brian Roberts left a hole at second base. Quintanila, though, has impressed with his bat. He went 0-for-3 Wednesday but has posted a .371 average in 12 games with the Orioles.

That production has left Andino without a starting job, at least temporarily.

"It would be easy to say know we knew exactly what [we were getting]," Showalter said of Quintanilla. "We had an open mind about it. He's got some track record of having success.

"He's a very hungry guy," Showalter added. "He's got a real intensity about him. I can't say I knew exactly, but I trusted our people, and we did a lot of homework on him. It doesn't surprise me that he approaches the game the way that he does."

Quintanilla's play puts pressure on Andino, who returned from the disabled list Tuesday. Quintanilla has started both games since his return.

"I was surprised," Quintanilla said about starting over Andino on Tuesday. "Andino is a good player. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't make the decisions, but I'm thinking we're both going to be ready to play every day when they need us."

Hammel getting closer

Showalter said right-hander Jason Hammel is close to starting baseball activities. Hammel had been the Orioles most effective starter this season until he was sidelined with a right knee injury. He had surgery to remove cartilege from his knee July 16.

"I'm very optimistic about it and trust our medical people, and I saw the work [Hammel] put in to stay on the field," Showalter said. "I look at it more as a case of when as opposed to if [he'll be back]. It will be a shot in the arm for us.

He added: "I think we'll know more when he actually starts throwing the ball and driving down off of [the knee]."

Another injured Oriole, outfielder Nolan Reimold, will move his rehabilitation to Jacksonville, Fla., where his family lives. Reimold underwent surgery June 25 to repair a bulging disk in his neck.

Reimold is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

Around the horn

Wednesday's loss put the Orioles one game behind the Yankees in the season series, 6-5. The Orioles haven't swept the Yankees in a three-game series in New York since 1986. … In 20 games since returning from the DL, outfielder Nick Markakis is batting .368 with six doubles, two home runs and 15 runs scored. … With two hits Wednesday, Wieters has now hit safely in all 11 games against the Yankees this season, the longest such streak for an Oriole since B.J. Surhoff hit safely in his first 11 games against the Yanks in 1999.

zhelfand@baltsun.com

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