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The Orioles lineup – the one that was envisioned to be the primary order on Opening Day — was finally present Monday evening at Camden Yards.
Tim Beckham was back from core muscle surgery, joining several hitters who have missed a chunk of this season due to injury — Mark Trumbo, Colby Rasmus, Jonathan Schoop – or ineffectiveness, Caleb Joseph, Chris Davis.
“For me, it’s an exciting feeling,” said Beckham, who hadn’t played since late April. “Our record doesn’t look good right now, but we have a really good ballclub. For everyone to be healthy and in the lineup tonight it’s a good feeling.”
In practicality, though, in its first day, there wasn’t a huge a difference for an offense had been scoring more recently.
On Monday the Orioles scored three runs, one on a solo homer by Schoop and two on productive outs. That’s a positive — except the Orioles started the sixth inning against Seattle’s Felix Hernandez with bases loaded and no outs.
And didn’t get another hit in the inning – though they almost had one before Seattle shortstop Jean Segura made a great diving play to rob Trey Mancini of a single.
The Orioles managed just four hits in the game – two by Manny Machado – left five men on base and were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Chris Davis, who said pre-game Monday that he felt like a different hitter this weekend after eight games off to work on his swing, struck out three times and was hit by a pitch in four plate appearances.
So, yeah, it’s great that the offense the Orioles wanted is finally together.
But it still was doing the same types of things Monday that has haunted this group all year.
O’s ankle issues – Bundy and Hays
Yes, the Orioles finally got the lineup they wanted in March on the field at Camden Yards in June.
But on the day all of those guys were in the lineup together, Orioles manager Buck Showalter explained that the rotation may be dealing with its own injury situation.
Top starter Dylan Bundy “rolled his ankle” while running the bases Saturday in Atlanta and now his start Thursday against the Mariners is in jeopardy, Showalter said.
The Orioles were optimistic he could be ready for his start, but they are developing contingencies in case he won’t be. The Orioles would be able to backdate a disabled list stint to Sunday if they must go that way.
It would be fitting for this nightmare season to finally have the envisioned Opening Day lineup together only to have the Opening Day starter end up on the shelf.
One other noteworthy injury note: Showalter said outfielder Austin Hays, who has been in a boot due to an injured ankle, is going to see a specialist.
It’s possible that rest isn’t helping, and that surgery may be required. That would make this lost season even more difficult for Hays, who was hitting just .224 with 43 strikeouts in 174 at-bats for Double-A Bowie before the injury. He hasn’t played since May 24.
Trying to return from lower back issues and a disastrous start to the season, right-hander Chris Tillman made his second rehab start in the minors Monday. He allowed two runs – both in the first inning, of course – on four hits and a walk in 3 1/3 innings at Low-A Delmarva.
Tillman, 30, struck out three batters and threw just 37 of his 62 pitches for strikes.
Monday was actually better – results-wise – than his initial start last week for Short-A Aberdeen. In that one, Tillman allowed three runs in two innings.
The Orioles obviously aren’t bringing Tillman back until he is succeeding consistently in minor league games — not after a start to the year in which he was 1-5 with a 10.46 ERA in seven starts.
Nelson Cruz is back in Camden Yards fresh off a Player of the Week Award. This is the year – the fourth of four — that scared the Orioles from signing Cruz back in 2014. They wanted him on a three-year deal; he got the fourth from Seattle. And, of course, he has been great in all four.
Ryan Divish from the Seattle Times explains how Cruz has been able to maintain his form as he approaches age 38. Check it out here as part of my WOYK Radio show on Monday night.