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Big night for rookie catcher Caleb Joseph in Orioles' loss to Tigers

Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph picked up his first career major League hit in the bottom of the fourth inning Tuesday night when he lined a fastball from Detroit Tigers left-hander Drew Smyly on an 0-1 count to center field.

“It was good, but it doesn’t matter because we lost,” Joseph said after the game. “Personal achievements don't mean crap to me right now. I’m just trying to win games for the Orioles.”

When he reached first base, the crowd at Camden Yards recognized the milestone with a standing ovation. Joseph, 27, started his career 0-for-8 before the hit.

In addition to collecting his first hit, Joseph guided starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to arguably the right-hander's best outing at Camden Yards. Jimenez shut out the Tigers in seven innings, surrendering just three hits and striking out seven on 97 pitches.

“Joseph caught a great game out there,” Jimenez said. “He has a really good idea of what he was doing.”

The Orioles drafted Joseph in the seventh round of the 2008 amateur draft. After bouncing around the organization's farm system, Joseph finally entered the majors this season.

With starting catcher Matt Wieters on the 15-day disabled list with an elbow strain, manager Buck Showalter has started both Joseph and Steve Clevenger. While Clevenger has 14 hits in 46 at-bats, Joseph had struggled to get into a groove at the plate.

He was 0-for-3 against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, and finished 0-for-4 with a strikeout the following day. After hitting into a fielder’s choice to end the second inning Tuesday night, though, Joseph finally delivered.

Tigers first baseman Victor Martinez handed him the ball as the fans stood and cheered.

Joseph also threw out three base runners -- two caught stealing -- and advanced Jonathan Schoop to second base on a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the seventh.

After the game, Showalter immediately praised the first-year catcher and credited him for helping the Orioles stay in front until the ninth.

Showalter said he was impressed by Joseph’s ability to successfully lay down a bunt.

When players bat third or fourth in the order during their entire minor league career, they are not accustomed to bunting in the eighth or ninth spot in the majors, Showalter said, but Joseph did so smoothly and effectively.

thass@baltsun.com

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Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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