Orioles Notebook: Birds back home for short stint

BALTIMORE - Eleven games in 11 days, no days off, some 3,000 miles away from home. And a 7-4 record to show for it.

That's what Baltimore brought home Tuesday after finishing its longest road trip of the year. The Orioles returned to Camden Yards for the first time since April 24 at 19-13, two games behind Boston in the AL East standings. And that's with a mere 12 home games to date.

"I forgot what the inside of this place looked like," first baseman Chris Davis said inside the Orioles' clubhouse before Tuesday's game against Kansas City. "The other day we walked in here and I'm like, 'Oh, is spring training over?'''

Far from it.

Baltimore averaged 5.3 runs per game on its recent swing through Oakland, Seattle and Los Angeles. The Orioles took three of four from the Athletics, dropped two of three against the Mariners, and finished with three wins out of four vs. the Angels. The offense combined for a .264 batting average while the starting pitching went 6-3 and the bullpen converted five of six save opportunities.

Baltimore isn't home for long, with a three-game series in Minnesota beginning Friday, but the Orioles then return for eight straight against San Diego, Tampa Bay and New York.

"You say it's still early, but how many times at the end of the season does a race come down to one game?" said left fielder Nate McLouth, who is batting .373 in his last 13 games before Tuesday. "We treat these games as important as any other games. But if we do lose a game, it's not the end of the world. We were able to put that behind us really quick and that's important."

ON THE MEND: Davis said he's feeling no effects from his knee injury suffered Friday in Los Angeles and was in the starting lineup Tuesday. The slugger missed Saturday's game against the Angels but returned Sunday.

"I think it was one of those things where you realize you're not invincible," Davis said. "It was one of those things where I'm like, why does this not feel right? But I feel good. Obviously I felt good two days later. I was excited to get back in the lineup on Sunday. I felt good enough to play."

Davis injured himself trying to leg out a hit and landed awkwardly on first base before limping back to the dugout. Davis left that game but only needed one day to recover from an injury that looked far worse when it happened.

"I was just kind of confused," he said. "I do a lot of work to take care of my body, and you don't ever expect anything like that to happen. I think the biggest mistake I made was lunging for the bag. That's a big no-no. It was a quick reminder, and I'm ready to get back out there and go again."

SORE THUMB: Orioles manager Buck Showalter said right-hander Miguel Gonzalez is likely to have his scheduled Thursday start pushed back to Friday or Saturday in Minnesota because of a blister on his throwing hand. Showalter said a blister formed under a callus on Gonzalez's thumb, which forced him to leave last Friday's game against the Angels.

"I can't handicap it until he takes his work day," Showalter said. "The problem with that, we're going to cover it when he does that. And obviously you can't cover it when he pitches."

ROBERTS UPDATE: Showalter said second baseman Brian Roberts is set to visit with Dr. Daniel Cooper in Dallas for a second opinion on his ailing hamstring. Roberts has been on the disabled list since April 5, but Showalter said he didn't think Roberts would have to be moved to the 60-day DL at this point.

"He doesn't feel like it's moving at the pace he was hoping to see," Showalter said.

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