TAMPA — The Orioles returned to Baltimore Sunday evening after winning two of three in their "home" series against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
The Rays really couldn't have been better hosts. They did everything possible to give the games a neutral feel.
"It's cool that the Rays and their organization saw what was going on in Baltimore and they offered to switch the series on such short notice," center fielder Adam Jones said. "So, you've got to give them thanks because if that didn't happen we wouldn't be playing this weekend in Baltimore."
The Orioles are off today, but not entirely. They will make a three-hour train ride to New York, where they will play two games against the Mets, then four against the Yankees.
Tuesday's game against the Mets will be the Orioles' first interleague game of the season. Playing a National League team on the road, pitchers will hit. Right-handers Bud Norris and Ubaldo Jimenez, scheduled to start against the Mets, have been taking batting practice in recent days.
It also means that the Orioles will likely be without designated hitter Jimmy Paredes, who has hit safely in 10 of his 12 games since coming off the disabled list.
After a five-game losing streak put the Orioles at 7-10, the the club has won five of their past six games and are now 12-11 and sit in second place in the American League East, three games back of the first-place Yankees.
The Orioles' pitching is starting to come around. The starting rotation has posted six straight quality starts, and after three scoreless relief innings on Sunday the bullpen hasn't allowed a run over the past four games, yielding just two hits over 8 1/3 innings. During that stretch, the Orioles pen's ERA has dropped from 4.48 to 3.98.
"This team is pretty talented offensively, defensively," reliever Tommy Hunter said. "We've got a pretty good staff. As soon as we put it together, good things will happen."
Even though the Orioles were forced to relocate their "home" series to Tampa Bay, the move to Tropicana Field benefitted the pitching for both teams.
"It's always such a fine margin of error," Showalter said. "Such a good pitchers park — all the foul ground and keeping the ball in the gaps — it's just a good place to pitch."
The Orioles have held the Rays to three or fewer runs in 17 of their past 25 games dating back to the beginning of the 2014 season.
Jones is hitting no matter where he's playing. He enters the day leading the American League with a .402 batting average, better than hitters like Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and reigning batting champ Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros. Jones had four hits on Sunday, tying a career high.
"Adam, you can't have a much better day than he did," Showalter said. "Adam's never dwelled on one at-bat or one swing, he puts it behind him and concentrates through another one."
Jones became the second player in franchise history to record three four-hit games in the season's first 23 games. The only other player to do that was Baby Doll Jacobson, who did it in 1924 with the St. Louis Browns.
Who is Baby Doll Jacobson?
Well, BDJ spent 11 years in the majors, mostly with the Browns. In parts of 10 seasons with the Browns he hit .317 with a .459 on-base percentage and .823 slugging percentage. His best season came in 1920, when he hit .355/.402/.501 with nine homers and 122 RBIs.