As one of the Internet’s most habitual critics of Adam Jones - a competitive field this season – I should at least act like I’m paying attention and give praise where it’s due for tonight’s two-home-run performance. Homers on the first pitch of his first two at-bats. Finding fault with that would be petty, so I won’t do that.
He was facing a pitcher he didn’t necessarily own (1-for-8 lifetime against Cesar Ramos before tonight’s game). But he does own lefties, with a slash line of .391/.462/.652 against them, although with only 3 RBI. So why not pick on the first offering if it looks good? And you can’t hit two home runs that far unless they’re both meatballs.
Just to step back into my body and be normal again, his next time up, he tried to pull an outside pitch and grounded out, much more in keeping with recent history. There now, I feel like myself again. My most fervent hope is that tonight was a sign of better things.
Tonight’s pitching effort, a 5 2/3-inning performance by Bud Norris, was sadly also in keeping with recent history, as the Baltimore Orioles came into this series at Tampa Bay with a Major League-worst, 10 quality starts.
Fast-forward to the 9th inning, and here comes Tommy Hunter. He allowed a run as the Rays closed the Orioles’ lead to one, and then, with runners on the corners, he stabbed a line drive back up the middle to end the game.
Go figure. Twice this week, pitchers stuck their gloves out, tipped the ball, and ruined an infielder’s chance to get an out. Hunter does it and catches a line drive to end the game and get the save. My greatest fear is that at this rate, Hunter will wear himself out and be the Jim Johnson of the second half, losing games but not Buck Showalter‘s loyalty.
Back to starting pitching, where winning consistently begins and ends. There’s this hotter than hot prospect named Dylan Bundy, whose praises most people can’t stop singing. He’ll be in the starting rotation sometime around July, the hopeful refrain goes, less than a full season after Tommy John surgery.
To all those who are putting Bundy in the rotation soon after the All Star Break, take care in your outlook. It typically takes two years to come back from that surgery: the year a pitcher has the surgery, and a year to pitch, but as history has shown in many cases, not all that well.
The superior performance of his first professional season at Delmarva is one indicator of how good he can be, but how reliable that is would be anybody’s guess.
What he is going to be ready for in July is just pitching competitively, not pitching in the major leagues. He will be ticketed for Bowie and/or Norfolk for at least a while, and a September spot in the bullpen will more than likely be his role with the Orioles this season.
They’ll need a fresh arm out there at that point, if the starting pitching this far into the season is any sign of things to come.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention tonight’s Major League debut of Caleb Joseph, who was promoted from Norfolk at the age of 27 when Matt Wieters‘ forearm, the most famous forearm in town, was found not to have a tear in it. That meant Wieters would not go on the DL, but that he would be limited to DH duties until his forearm and elbow got some rest.
Steve Clevenger will start behind the plate, but Joseph will back up Clevenger. Joseph started tonight because the Rays started a lefty.