One swing does not necessarily end a season-long slump. But could it jumpstart a player out of a rough stretch?
Perhaps. The Orioles sure hope so. They’d like to think Adam Jones is on his way back to being Adam Jones after a fifth-inning home run and then a ninth-inning, two-run single Tuesday in the Orioles’ 5-3 win at Minnesota.
Maybe it’s just a blip, and doesn’t change anything. But I will say this: Jones sure did end his home run drought with authority.
Jones hadn’t homered since April 16 in Texas – his lone clout of 2016.
That changed Tuesday, when Jones absolutely clobbered a Jose Berrios’ hanging curve into the second deck mezzanine level in left center at Target Field.
It was initially estimated at 443 feet. Heading into Tuesday night, only 47 homers have been hit this year that have been estimated at 443 feet or more, according to ESPN’s home run tracker. It was the third longest home run by an Oriole this year, according to the site.
What’s the longest home run by an Oriole in 2016? Jones’ other homer this year, estimated at 460 feet, according to ESPN.
So Jones hasn’t shown his frequency of power that we’re accustomed to, but when he gets them, they’ve been going a long way.
A couple other thoughts about Jones’ night: Tuesday’s three RBIs are his most for a game this season. He hasn’t had a multi-RBI game since April 15. His only other time this year with multiple runs driven in was Opening Day.
Tuesday was also his first multi-hit game of May.
We’ll see if it is a trend, or just a good game. But we all know this club is a lot better with Jones producing.
Gausman still searching for win
Right-hander Kevin Gausman has just three wins in the past calendar year – 21 starts dating back to last June – partially because the Orioles don’t seem to score for him.
On Tuesday, they gave him three runs through six innings, and Gausman just couldn’t seal the deal, hanging a pitch to Trevor Plouffe for a two-run homer to tie the game in the sixth.
It’s a shame Gausman couldn’t get his first win of the season. But he continues to impress, striking out nine Twins batters Tuesday. Remember, Gausman missed the end of the spring and the beginning of the season with shoulder tendinitis. So, theoretically, he still could be behind a little bit, but the way he was commanding his fastball, it sure didn’t look that way.
What impressed me the most about Gausman was that he was given a two-run lead in the fifth and delivered a shutdown inning, which is often difficult for young pitchers.
Yes, Plouffe got him in the next frame, but these are major league hitters. They win sometimes. And if Gausman keeps pitching like this, he’ll win sometimes, too.
Another split, double-dip
The Orioles announced Tuesday that they will have a split doubleheader on June 25 against the Tampa Bay Rays at 1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for 4:05 p.m., and fans holding tickets to that one can now use them for the nightcap.
The afternoon game is a makeup from a rainout April 9 against the Rays; tickets for that one can be used for the June 25 afternoon game or can be exchanged on a “dollar-for-dollar” basis for another home game this season.
It’s the second, day-night doubleheader so far this year for the Orioles. The first was on Saturday when the Orioles split with the Oakland A’s after Friday’s game was rained out.
The Orioles, like most teams, hate doubleheaders. You’ll hear managers from both sides talk about how hard it is to sweep one in the majors – they’d much rather try to get one win in one game per day.
Of course, the split doubleheaders are better than what the Orioles will have to do twice later this season – go back to a city for a one-game trip. They’ll be doing that on June 20, going back to Arlington, Texas to make up a rainout against the Rangers from April 17. And they’ll do it on July 28 at Minnesota to make up Monday’s postponement.
It’s a terrible situation for the Orioles, to lose home off days in exchange for one-game road trips. It’s the unfortunate hand dealt by April and May showers.
It’s seemingly unavoidable but … you have to wonder why teams that only go into a city once are scheduled to do that in April and May, when there’s a higher concentration of postponements.
The Orioles make three trips each to the four AL East cities, yet they haven’t played in Toronto or New York yet this year, but have gone to Texas, Kansas City and Minnesota. The Orioles won’t play in New York until July 18. That’s after the All Star Break.
And that makes no sense.