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With other hitters struggling, Orioles should lean on Delmon Young

For a team that prides itself on the “next man up” always being ready, Orioles designated hitter Delmon Young seems to have had his turn skipped plenty this year.

But with the team’s big hitters scuffling, here’s to hoping that stops being the case and the Orioles continue to ride Young’s hot bat the way they have with the rest of the offense.

Since the All-Star break last month, Young has hits in six of his nine games, including both of his pinch-hit appearances. His one-out, pinch-hit single Monday tied the game in the seventh, and helped chase Washington Nationals starter Tanner Roark.

He’s 9-for-17 (.529) as a pinch-hitter, and is batting .319/.347/.458 in 150 at-bats overall.

The team, by comparison, is batting .213 since the break, good for 28th in the majors and last in the American League. The team OPS of .629 is 26th in baseball and ahead of only the Seattle Mariners in the AL in that stretch, and most of Seattle's woes have been televised on MASN for all over Birdland to see.

Yes, it’s fun with sample sizes (which is the best kind of fun). But it’s no surprise that the two players who have seemingly been the odd men out all year, Young and David Lough, are the freshest players on the team and, over the last two weeks, their best hitters. Add in third baseman Manny Machado, who’s at .291/.310/.455 since the break, and the point is even stronger.

It’s not like the offense is coming from elsewhere. Shortstop J.J. Hardy’s power is still missing. Outfielder Nelson Cruz did his best 2013 Chris Davis impression for the first two months of the season, socking 20 home runs and hitting .320 with a 1.057 OPS from Opening Day until May 31. But he has followed that up with an impression of 2014 Chris Davis, hitting .206 with nine home runs, and is six-for-61 (.098) since the All-Star break.

They’re starting to get a bit of a rest, and Young’s consistent bat has allowed that. The Orioles have kept Young on the roster for the entire season. Now’s the time for the big payoff.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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