Orioles' Caleb Joseph is suddenly a hit machine after a year of total frustration

Caleb Joseph finally has the RBI monkey off his back.

Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph tied a career high Monday night with four hits and delivered his third RBI hit in his past nine games. That's heady stuff for a guy who did not drive in a single run last season.

There's more. Since Joseph ended a season-opening string of 12 hitless at-bats in early April, he's hitting .316 and used Monday night's 4-for-4 performance to raise his batting average from .174 to .240.

"I was happy with tonight's performance," Joseph deadpanned. "The hardest thing is to try and continue to [produce] again in the big leagues. It's a tough league. I think I'm better than what I've shown over the past year and half, but today was nice. A little individual accomplishment and the team wins. Everybody wins, right? It's good."

Manager Buck Showalter doesn't know how to explain it -- and doesn't want to overanalyze it -- but he conceded that it might have something to do with getting the RBI monkey off his back.

Don't know why that would be. He only went 19 months and 18 days between run-scoring at-bats.

"Caleb has a track record of being able to do some things offensively," Showalter said. "Now that he's got that albatross off his back and [is] able to clear his mind a little bit, he jokes and is very open with you guys and presents himself, but inside, it bothers him when he's not able to contribute."

Joseph worked hard this past offseason to clean up his hitting mechanics and get his head straight after letting the weight of that RBI drought drag him down last season. He finally broke through with a two-run home run at Yankee Stadium on April 29.

He's been hitting ever since, but he was more interested in talking about the performance of Kevin Gausman, who bounced back from last week's early ejection to pitch what he and Joseph felt was his best game of the young season.

"I think [the key was] fastball command down and away," Joseph said. "He's always had a really nice fastball, and I think the hitters will tell you that. When it leaks over the middle of the plate, he's not as good as he should be. I think tonight he was able to really establish that down-and-away fastball, as our other starters have, which has led to a lot of success."

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