Needless to say, Orioles leftfielder Nolan Reimold is in the zone.
The hitting home runs every night in the most critical spots. He’s making all sorts of dramatic catches in the field – running, diving, even lunging into the first row of seats atU.S. Cellular Field.
In the Orioles’ 3-2 win over the White Sox Tuesday night on Chicago’s South Side, Reimold was at it again. He hit his fourth homer in as many starts. And in the field he made two web-gem caliber catches.
In the first inning, Reimold made a diving snag of No. 2 hitter Brent Morel’s ball in shallow left-centerfield. Instead of falling and putting two men on -- Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen walked the first batter he faced, Alejandro De Aza – with no outs, it helped Chen to an easy opening inning.
His play in the seventh wasn’t as dramatic, but equally as important. Reimold used his closing speed to get to a ball in deep left-centerfield near the warning track off the bat of Gordan Beckham, giving Orioles reliever Darren O’ Day some help.
“I was happy I was able to contribute on both sides of the game and make some plays,” Reimold said. “I’m sure the pitchers appreciate that and it’s something that I want to do more of. So I’ll be looking to improve on my defense all the time.”
Reimold made a play in Monday’s series opener in which he snagged a fly ball in foul ground running full speed, catching the ball just before he flipped in the front row of seats. At least on person in the Orioles clubhouse thought Reimold was robbed of a top-10 play by ESPN.
And then there’s Reimold’s bat – which has been a catalyst for the Orioles offense on their 4-1 start to their current three-city, 10-game road trip.
Four homers, four games, four Baltimore wins.
Here’s how Reimold’s splits look, breaking down his first five games versus the last four.
First five games: .238 average, 5-for-21, 0 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 6 Ks
Last four games: .500 average, 8-for-16 , 7 R, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 3 K,
Reimold didn’t have many explanations after Tuesday’s game.
“Staying calm,” Reimold said. “No real secret to it, it’s just kind of happening. I’ve just been feeling good keeping my swing short, not moving my head too much, get the pitch and don’t miss it.”
Having a productive No. 9 hitter has obviously helped. No. 9 man Robert Andino has a .325/.357/.475 line so far and has reached base in 10 of the Orioles’ 11 games.
"When we can stick somebody like Robert down there in the nine hole and he can get on base for that,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You just try to add some length to your lineup. We've been seeing since I've been here, there's a lot of length in the American League. There aren't a lot of places to breathe."
Showalter’s move of placing Reimold, who doesn’t fit the role of a conventional leadoff hitter, at the top of the lineup might have been his best move of the spring. And he was patient with the experiment as Reimold starting the spring in which he had just three hits in his first 21 at bats and hit .179 throughout the entire spring.
That patience is beginning to reap benefits. Yes, the Orioles have struggled with runners in scoring positin, but Reimolds emergence has strengthened the Orioles’ lineup from top to bottom.
“It's never been a question of skills,” Showalter said of Reimold. “It's been a question of health in a lot of cases with Nolan. It's good to see him off to a good start."
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun