Jul 19, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (10) singled to center scoring two runs during the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Jones Takes Charge in Orioles Win over Athletics

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Without doubt, Adam Jones is the leader on the current edition of the Baltimore Orioles. Leaders need to stand up at critical moments, and that is what the man who is “the face of the organization” did.

On an evening after a terribly painful walk-off loss in a game that should have been a win, Jones tallied five RBIs to lead the O’s to an 8-4 victory. On an evening after he narrowly escaped a bean-ball to the dome, in his first at-bat, he put the Orioles in the lead to stay with a three-run shot to left field off Jason Hammel. And the guy who did get drilled in the dome Friday night—J.J. Hardy—followed three batters later with a solo shot to the same spot.

Jones knocked home two more runs on a grounder through a drawn-in infield. Chris Davis took former teammate Jim Johnson out of the park for a final run, having also doubled home Adam Jones earlier in the game.

Adding to the offense was a 4-for-5 evening by Nick Markakis. After four consecutive singles, Nick hit his hardest shot of the evening past the A’s second baseman; it was scored as an error.

Wei-Yin Chen was very strong in his first couple of innings, though he would ultimately yield three runs in five innings of work. It was not his best effort, but he appears to just be missing when he makes mistakes.

All the Orioles offence came from the top six batters in the order—going a combined 13-for-26, while the bottom third of the lineup was 0-for-13. Steve Pearce was 3-for-4 with a walk and is now hitting .320.  Markakis is back up to .294, while Jones is currently .301.

Looking at the A’s as a team

The Oakland A’s are a good club; they are the first team in MLB to get to 60 wins. But there is no reason to be terrified of them. Yes, their pitching is excellent—arguably the very best in the game. And yes, pitching wins. But their batting average is ninth in the AL, yet at the same time, they also have the second-highest number of runs scored—that is an impressive (and weird) combination of statistics.

Good pitching can stop the Oakland A’s, however. And even on Friday night, it is impressive that they could come back as they did—another statistic about which they are #1. But honestly, it took two lucky base hits to set up the entire situation for the walk-off homer. The point is: they’re very good, but far from unbeatable by a team playing well. But like the O’s, they don’t give up and keep coming at you as the game goes along.

Sunday preview  

Today’s final game of the series (and final game until the two teams meet for the American League Championship) will feature the pitching matchup of Kevin Gausman (4-2, 3.29) against Sonny Gray (10-3, 2.79).

Gray, at age 24, is another in a long line of young pitching talent developed by the Oakland A’s. Over his past three games, he has given up only two runs on 16 hits in 21.2 innings. Prior to that, he did go through a difficult stretch that included a rough outing against the Orioles on June 7th. In that game against Gausman, Gray gave up five runs on four hits and a walk. Adam Jones touched him for a first-inning home run. The Orioles also hit him hard for six runs in a start in Baltimore last August.

Gausman beat the A’s in June in his first big league start of the season. In that game he gave up one run on four hits in seven innings. The single run was a Coco Crisp home run. This will be the third consecutive Sunday that Gausman has pitched; and in those games against Boston and New York, he yielded two runs on eight hits in 10.1 innings.

The Orioles do need to keep on winning. Every team in the AL East put up a win yesterday, so, now ground was gained other than getting a game closer to the end of the season. This is a big trip for sure. I heard it from Red Sox fans in Boston—they are banking on the Orioles crashing on this road trip.

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