MINNEAPOLIS — Catcher Caleb Joseph didn’t credit any newfound approach in the batter’s box for his first three-hit game of the season in the Orioles’ 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday night at Target Field.
He was just trying to avoid striking out.
The result was Joseph’s first three-hit game in more than a year — his previous one was July 2, 2017, against the Tampa Bay Rays — in a performance that included a pair of opposite-field singles in his final two at-bats of the night.
“I’m just trying not to strike out,” Joseph said straight-faced. “I’m tired of striking out, tired of punching out and not giving yourself a chance. If you can let the ball get deep and trust that you can still put the barrel on it, sometimes it goes to right. I’d like to say it was intentional, but no. I just swung and the ball went to right field.”
Entering Friday’s game, Joseph had six strikeouts in his previous 10 plate appearances spanning six games.
“It’s just a conscious effort to not punch [out] as much,” Joseph said. “It’s a lonely walk to the dugout.”
Joseph spent just more than a month in the minor leagues after he was hitting just .182 in mid-May and had some uncharacteristic defensive lapses. He was productive while in Triple-A Norfolk, hitting .273 with a .340 on-base percentage in 24 games with the Tides before returning to the Orioles on June 19.
Joseph is still hitting just .217 in 11 starts since returning from Norfolk, but manager Buck Showalter said he reminded Joseph before Friday’s game that success will come in increments.
“I was talking to him today in my office,” Showalter said. “I said, ‘You came here swinging the bat real well from Norfolk and then after about six or seven games he had some tough-luck line drives and then he changed something in his stance. You talk to players today, if you think you’re going to go from zero to 100 here, it doesn’t work that way. It’s two steps forward, one step back. The pitching’s too good. You’re going to have those days.
“You’ve got to equate success in winning an at-bat and that may be taking a walk. I’d love to have had some home runs tonight. I’d love to have some singles last night. We’re just having trouble putting it together. Caleb, there’s nobody more in tune with trying to win a baseball game than Caleb Joseph on this team. That’s what makes him so attractive and people want him around.”