Even though Chris Davis and Adam Jones have carried the majority of the offensive load in the Orioles lineup through the first 11 games, right fielder Nick Markakis has quietly had a solid start to the season.
Markakis’ go-ahead solo homer in the third inning of yesterday’s 5-3 win over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium gave him hits in nine of the first 11 games. He’s also homered in two of his past four games.
"That's where I like to be,” Markakis said after Saturday’s game. “I like to be under the radar. Let the big dogs drive us in. And they've been doing it all year. They did it for us last year. Hopefully, they continue to do it for the rest of the year."
Opposing pitchers know Markakis hasn't been under the radar. He's been one of the team's toughest outs.
Against right-handed pitching, the left-handed hitting Markakis is batting .323/.382/.581, going 10-for-31 with four extra-base hits (two doubles and two homers), three RBIs and three walks. The Orioles face right-hander Hiroki Kuroda in tonight’s nationally televised game at Yankee Stadium.
Markakis has hit well leading off and in the No. 3 spot, which is important because it has afforded manager Buck Showalter some lineup flexibility. In three games batting leadoff, Markakis is hitting .308, and in eight games in the three hole, he’s recorded a .294/.368/.529 batting line.
That allows Showalter the flexibility to hit either Markakis or Nate McLouth leadoff, depending on the matchups, or hit Markakis third in a bigger run production spot just before Jones, Davis and Matt Wieters.