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Orioles' attempts at building lineup core without Chris Davis haven't created a spark

As the Orioles prepare for a return of first baseman Chris Davis from his oblique strain as early as next week, they've played 10 games with the reshuffled lineup that moved All-Star second baseman Jonathan Schoop up to third and put center fielder Adam Jones batting cleanup.

It was a way to get Schoop's hot bat the number of plate appearances it deserved, it kept third baseman Manny Machado second, and it extended the lineup a bit by having sluggers Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini batting fifth and sixth.

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Ten games into that experiment, the results haven't been especially encouraging.

Machado is batting .125 (5-for-40) over the past 10 days, an even-worse expression of his season-long struggles. He's homered just once and driven in four runs in that span. Behind him, Schoop is batting .305 (11-for-36) during that time, with two homers and seven RBIs.

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Jones started hot while hitting cleanup but has since fallen off, batting .186 (8-for-43) with one home run and three RBIs. Behind him, Trumbo is batting .265 with a pair of home runs and seven RBIs.

Mancini hit a bit of a skid over the weekend, perhaps related to a sty on his eye, but rebounded with a pair of hits Monday to give him 10 in 35 at-bats as the consistent No. 6 hitter in this lineup for a .285 average. His two home runs and five RBIs in that span all came during that first series at Tropicana Field.

None of that has done anything to change the fortunes of this core of five players this year, nor the lineup that they're a part of. The Orioles have scored 41 runs (4.1 per game), a shade down from their 4.43 runs per game average on the season, though it's not all on them. Catcher Welington Castillo's bat has cooled of late, though backup Caleb Joseph is heating up.

The outfield platoons at the corner positions, with Seth Smith, Hyun Soo Kim, Craig Gentry and Joey Rickard, have produced inconsistent results. Shortstop has been a revolving door between Rubén Tejada and Paul Janish, with J.J. Hardy on his way back from a fractured wrist.

That's all made for run production difficulties. Davis' return after the All-Star break could extend the lineup a bit, but the truth about the lineup will remain the same with or without him. Breakout seasons by Schoop and Mancini would serve the club much better if the stars they're meant complement can find the form everyone expects from them.

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