J.J. Hardy

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run against the New York Yankees during the eighth inning. (Brad Penner, USA Today Sports / June 21, 2014)

NEW YORK — Orioles manager Buck Showalter likes to talk about how the Orioles are a loose group that never takes itself too seriously.

Case in point: the eighth inning Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy finally homered, his first of the year after hitting 25 in 2013. It snapped a streak of 339 homerless at-bats for Hardy.

As he was trotting around the bases, he noticed his teammates weren’t moving. They weren’t going to come and greet him. He would be getting the silent treatment, something the Orioles do on occasion to mess with a teammate.

“As I was rounding third, I kind of looked in the dugout and no one had moved. And I knew they were going to just sit there,” Hardy said. “Luckily, there was a [sunflower seed] bag just sitting there on the top step. So I grabbed it and figured I’d give myself a sunflower seed shower.”

Hardy high-fived the air and threw the seeds on himself -- to the amusement of his teammates. They then joined him in the celebration.

“Too funny,” starter Bud Norris said. “For all of us, the quiet joke we have around the clubhouse right now is great.”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said it hurt him a little not to reach out to Hardy, but he had to play his part.
 
“It was tough for me,” Showalter said of not reacting immediately to Hardy’s homer. “I wanted to hug him when he came by, but I had to go along with the program.”

And so it goes with these 2014 Orioles. Not too high, not too low in a long season.