Aug 4, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph (36) bats in the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. The Orioles defeated the Nationals 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Joseph Leads Resurrection of Orioles’ Bats

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After a series of 16 games in which the Baltimore Orioles had the good fortune to win 10 of them when only scoring 53 runs, everyone knew the O’s bats had to come to life … that the great pitching of late could not be depended upon interminably.

And come to life again is exactly what the Birds’ offense did on Monday night in Washington, led by Caleb Joseph’s home run, single and three RBIs. The Orioles pounded out 14 total hits, with J.J. Hardy having four of them in his first 4-hit game of the season. Additionally, the Orioles went 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position – tallying five total runs in the seventh and eighth innings to overpower the Nationals 7-3 and take the season series 3-1.

The first two Baltimore runs came on solo home runs off Tanner Roark by Nick Markakis in the fifth inning and Joseph in the third inning. For the Orioles’ catcher it was his fifth homer this year. The make-up game against the Nationals was Joseph’s 50th of this season … and his career. He is putting it together offensively and maximizing his short, quick swing. Joseph is 11-for-34 with two homers over his past 10 games.

The rap on Joseph—who was not even protected from the Rule 5 Draft over the offseason—was that he had lots of potential offensive ability, but that his defense was terribly suspect. However, in the absence of Matt Wieters, Joseph has had his chance to play and demonstrate that his catching skills are actually at a very high level.

Lagging for Joseph in Baltimore has been his hitting. But just imagine what this guy has had to absorb and produce in a short time. He has been called upon to handle the pitching staff, know the strategy of pitching against all players from other teams, while also holding their running game to first base. Along the way, he is also supposed to contribute offensively. It is a lot to put together in a short time.  

For perspective, Caleb Joseph and Delmon Young are the same age.

But is all has to be very encouraging for the young man, who is actually … well … not that young as rookies go. He turned 28 in June. By way of reference, he is currently the same age as Delmon Young—only nine months younger.

Caleb Joseph was very discouraged last year in the minor leagues. He was age 27 and had not played higher than AA Bowie. He had success, yet at the same time, there did not seem to be a path forward for advancement. But all of that has changed with the drifting trade winds of circumstance and opportunity.

In the after-game interview, Joseph said, “I feel like I can hit at this level and I haven’t shown it yet. The more confidence you get… Sometimes, hitting is all confidence and you get a little confidence and it breeds more confidence and you kind of get on a roll and then kind of get settled in.”

Also paying dividends for the Orioles is that Joseph had minor league experience catching and working closely with Kevin Gausman. The young O’s pitcher did not at all have the stellar stuff as in his most recent previous outing. But he worked his way through six laborious innings—holding the Nationals to three runs on eight hits and two walks.

It was a struggle; Gausman was in trouble most of the night. But he worked through each situation by limiting the damage and holding the Orioles in the game until the offence could explode. For his efforts he gained his sixth win against three losses, aided again by the bullpen’s 9 up / 9 down effort.

The victory put the Orioles up by four full games over the Jays, whom they fly to Toronto overnight to face in the first of three on Tuesday evening.  Of the challenge this presents, Showalter said after the game, “It’s part of what we have to go through to get what we’re trying to get done. We’ve still got to go back to BWI to get on a plane. It’s tough… These guys get to sleep around 5 or 6.”

The opening game will have Mark Buehrle going against Bud Norris.

Buehrle has not been pitching well of late. Though 11-7 with a 3.11 ERA on the season, he is 1-6 / 4.45 over the past 10 games, including a loss to the Orioles on June 12th.

A number of the Orioles have good stats against him, including Delmon Young who is 19-for-48 with four homers, so I am looking to see him in the lineup at DH… especially since Nelson Cruz is 1-for-17! Adam Jones is 10-for-28 with a homer, Chris Davis is 6-for-19 with two homer, and Nick Markakis is 20-for-46 (.435) with two homers.

Budd Norris is 2-0 against the Jays in 23.2 innings, with a 2.66 ERA. Not bad.

Let me suggest a lineup for tonight that drops Cruz, given his deadly slump.

Markakis – 9

Machado – 5

Jones – 8

Young – DH

Davis – 3

Hardy – 6

Pearce – 7

Joseph – 2

Schoop – 4

Hopefully Buck reads this column and applies all the good advice in it!

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