If I was asked before the season which two Orioles position players needed to take the next step this year for the organization to feel better about where it's headed, I wouldn't have thought twice before I gave the names of Matt Wieters and Adam Jones. Well, the Orioles are 46 games into the season and their two best position players have been Wieters and Jones, and nobody else is particularly close. Jones won last night's game with an absolute bomb to dead center, and he also hustled out a double in his previous at-bat. He is second on the Orioles with a .292 average, 50 hits and nine doubles, and tied for first with 24 runs, six homers and 26 RBIs. He's running the bases extremely well and playing Gold Glove defense in center fielder. Wieters went 1-for-4 yesterday with an RBI double. We've talked about his defense plenty, and I don't know if there is another catcher in baseball playing defense at a higher level. Wieters is tied for the team lead in RBIs and has been among the toughest outs in baseball with runners in scoring position. If you are looking for something to feel good about -- and I still contend that despite their sub-.500 record, the Orioles have generated far more positives than negatives at least in terms of issues affecting their long-term outlook -- go around the American League and ask yourself how many center fielders you'd rather have than Jones and how many catchers you'd rather have than Wieters. When you take in account age, production and tools, I'm guessing it will be a very, very short list.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter is not a guy who sleeps much regardless, but if there is something that is keeping him up at night, I'd have to imagine it is the Orioles' shaky middle-relief corps, the group that is supposed to get the ball and the lead to Jim Johnson, Koji Uehara and Kevin Gregg. Jason Berken was supposed to be the leader of that group, but he's now in Triple-A, stretching out to be a starter. The club doesn't trust Michael Gonzalez in clutch situations, and rightly so. Clay Rapada can't get righties out, so he's not a good option there. If Alfredo Simon is the team's long guy, that pretty much leaves Jeremy Accardo as the main option to get the ball to the back-end guys. Accardo has had some decent outings, and his 1 2/3 scoreless innings last night were instrumental in the comeback. However, it always seems that he's walking the tightrope and one pitch away from allowing the game to be blown open. Perhaps this is why: In 21 2/3 innings, Accardo has surrendered 25 hits, walked 14 and hit one. He has gotten out of several jams, but the nearly two base runners per inning don't bode well. This is where Simon could play a key role. If he's able to pitch that sixth and seventh inning on occasion and give the Orioles another reliable arm to serve as a bridge to the back end, that would be huge. The Orioles have plenty of other long men candidates. Either Brad Bergesen or Chris Tillman could do that job if they lose their rotation spot to Brian Matusz. Berken could do that as well after he gets stretched out. Mark Hendrickson is in Triple-A. But it's that "bridge guy" to help out Accardo who needs to emerge.

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As good as Zach Britton has been, this season still remains a learning experience for the rookie lefty. One thing he got his first taste of last night was the Baltimore humidity. Last night was as humid as it has been this season, and it's only going to get worse. It certainly appeared to me that Britton was running out of gas a little there in the sixth. Credit him for hanging tough in that inning and getting Alex Gordon with the bases loaded to keep the Orioles' deficit at three runs. A hit or a walk there and that game is probably over. I'm sure Britton will learn to cope. It's just one more reason that Camden Yards is an awfully tough place to pitch in the summer months.

Here's yet another Nick Markakis stat that should probably concern you: Markakis has just four doubles in 185 at-bats and 45 games. Last season, he eclipsed the four-double mark on April 16, the Orioles' 11th game of the season.

I'm just saying: Much-maligned third baseman Mark Reynolds leads the Orioles with 11 doubles and 22 walks. Only Jones and Luke Scott have more home runs than him, and Reynolds' 20 RBIs are third on the team. He also entered yesterday hitting .286 with runners in scoring position, a mark bettered among Orioles regulars by only Jones, Brian Roberts and Wieters. The overall .191 average obviously speaks for itself and mars the other statistics. I know he has essentially been the whipping boy for the Orioles' offensive struggles, but there are plenty of others who should take as much or more blame, including Markakis, Roberts (when healthy), Derrek Lee and Scott.

If the Orioles had lost last night, the key play would have been Robert Andino's bunting into a double play in the fifth. At the time, the Orioles trailed by two runs, and they got their first two base runners on in the inning despite the fact that neither had to take the bat off his shoulder. Royals rookie Danny Duffy walked J.J. Hardy on four pitches and then Brandon Snyder on five. That's when Andino came up, offered at Duffy's first pitch -- a high fastball -- and popped up the bunt attempt. Royals third baseman Wilson Betemit caught the poor bunt and threw to second to double up Hardy. I had no problem with the idea of bunting there. The Orioles had a runner on second and nobody out in two of the previous four innings, and they never even moved that runner up a base. Also, Jones, Markakis and Vladimir Guerrero were the next three hitters up. My problem was with Andino not taking at least one pitch and making Duffy throw a strike. Duffy was teetering and tiring there, and that was a gift for him. I think you have to give him an opportunity to keep walking guys before you commit to bunting.

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