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Random Orioles facts and opinions

It certainly appeared from the pressbox that Ty Wigginton was a little miffed with teammate Nick Markakis for stealing third while he was at the plate with one out in the fourth inning last night.

Wigginton, noticing Markakis got a great jump, took a belt-high fastball down the middle from Edwin Jackson for strike two before ultimately striking out. When the Orioles came out of the dugout for the bottom of the fourth, Markakis stopped to talk to Wigginton at first base before heading out to right field. When that inning ended, Markakis approached first base coach John Shelby on the top step of the dugout and motioned toward third base, and ultimately Adam Jones and Corey Patterson joined in the discussion. I know some hitters don't like guys stealing third while they are at the plate because it affects whether they swing or not and it can serve as a distraction. But Markakis, who should run more, did get to third with less than two outs, putting Wigginton in position to get an easy RBI with a fly ball or a ground ball to the right side.

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My guess is with the way Jackson was pitching and with the Orioles already trailing 3-0, Wigginton felt that the Orioles were going to need more than just a sacrifice fly to get back in the game. And the one pitch he felt that he could have handled, he let it go once Markakis broke for third.

• Speaking of Markakis, his most ardent backers – and I'm often accused of being one of them – pointed to his on-base percentage and his average with runners in scoring position in the first half in defending his paltry home run and RBI totals.

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However in the second half, Markakis' on-base percentage is under .300 and he's walked just 11 times in 39 games after drawing 50 free passes in his first 87 contests. His average with runners in scoring position – well over .300 before the All-Star break – now sits at .296. He's also gone nine consecutive games without an extra-base hit.

You can point to his lack of protection in the lineup, the couple of diving catches or perfect throws that he makes seemingly every series, or his 39 doubles. But it's hard – impossible actually – to get around the fact that he's hitting .287 with eight homers and 44 RBIs in late August. If somebody had told me before the season that those would be his numbers at this point, I would have assumed he spent a good chunk of time on the disabled list.

• White Sox starter Mark Buehrle, who accused Felix Pie of stealing signs during Wednesday's game, said yesterday that Pie was wiggling his fingers to relay information to Oriole hitters and the White Sox apparently have videotape to prove it. I'm not buying it, nor were the Orioles who had a fine time chuckling at the mere suggestion that Pie would relay signs. But I would still love to see the tape.

I have seen Pie wiggle his fingers plenty of times as he extends his lead and gets in his crouch. I never thought anything of it, but perhaps I'm being duped as well.

• The big leagues have a way of humbling you rather quickly. Just ask rookie third baseman Josh Bell. He had what he admitted was a game that he'll never forget last Saturday when he hit his first two big league home runs off former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee as part of a five-RBI and three-hit afternoon. In four games since, Bell is 1-for-14 with seven strikeouts.

• I'm real interested in seeing how the Orioles handle outfielder Nolan Reimold, if in fact, he is promoted when rosters can expand Sept. 1. Manager Buck Showalter has indicated that he likely will join the club. Do you play him regularly in left field and send Pie to the bench? Do you regularly DH him, which would likely keep Luke Scott or Ty Wigginton out of the lineup? Or do you sub him in for Pie only against tough lefties or when you want to give Markakis or Adam Jones a rare off day? I don't have the answers, but I'd be very surprised if he saw much time at first base.

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