Adam Jones hasn’t been in the Baltimore Orioles’ lineup for the first two games of this weekend’s series in Tampa. The Birds fell Friday night, and again of course tonight. Would Jones’ presence in the lineup made a difference? Probably not. Jones isn’t expected to be in the lineup for tomorrow’s finale either, although Buck Showalter said he’d play again this month.
Like Showalter, Jones is in the final month of his contract. My personal view is that the Orioles need Jones moving forward, both as a veteran presence but also as a team leader/captain. GM Dan Duquette has said that the Orioles’ payroll is going to be much lower going into next year. Many read that to mean Jones’ time in Baltimore is all but done. But is it possible that Buck Showalter is using this series as a manner by which to signal Duquette and upper management that Jones’ presence on the roster behooves the franchise?
David Hess got the start in tonight’s game, and while his numbers indicate a struggle he was ultimately failed by outside forces. Hess’ line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R (2 earned), 0 BB, 3 K. Hess allowed four runs in the first inning. One of those came on a wild pitch, but ultimately runners were only on base due to throwing errors. Tampa would also get a fifth run in the second on a squeeze bunt by Wendle.
The O’s battled back starting in the third. And they battled back several times, but Tampa never seemed to allow it. Villar’s RBI-single in the third cut the lead to 5-1. One inning later Renato Nunez smacked a two-run homer, and the O’s were within two at 5-3.
As I said, Tampa just kept adding on. After two six inning runs, the O’s got back to within 7-5 in the seventh on Villar’s two-RBI single. But Tampa just wasn’t in the mood to be losing on this night, and they took the game 10-5. In fairness to the O’s, nary one break seemed to go their way in this game. Tampa hitters got the benefit of balls hitting the catwalk, errors getting them on base, the ball slipping out of David Hess’ hand for a wild pitch – among other things. I suppose that good things happen to you when you play a rebuilding team.
However I can’t shake the thought that Adam Jones was kept out of the lineup to send a message. In essence, this is what the team would look like without Adam Jones. Would a manager like Showalter pull a stunt like that? Tough to say, because Buck’s all about winning. But if he thought it might help the organization moving forward…anything’s possible.
Officially, the word is that Showalter wants to get a look at some other guys (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
It’s a great opportunity for some guys to get some big league experience. It’s good to see some guys get big league experience, get into some games, get into some action. I’ve shown what I can do, so it’s good to, if you’re going to move forward with the new future, so right now is no time like the present to get them some at-bats.
For whatever that’s worth.
The series in Tampa concludes tomorrow afternoon at Tropicana Field. Josh Rogers gets the start for the Orioles, and at this point Tampa hasn’t named an opposing starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.