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It's likely too late to give the Orioles any shot at the playoffs, but two key players — center fielder Adam Jones and closer Zach Britton — returned from injury in the team's 2-0 loss to the Red Sox Sunday afternoon.

Jones started in center field and batted fourth after not being available the past six days with back spasms. Britton threw a scoreless eighth inning, returning from a sore left lat muscle for his first appearance since last Sunday.

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Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that Jones returning in a day game gives him more recovery time before Monday's night game, when the Orioles open their final homestand — seven games in seven days against the Blue Jays and Yankees.

Showalter admitted the Orioles have missed Jones' presence in the lineup, but said the club has been careful in not bringing him back too soon. Jones, who entered the day as a .292/.341/.475 hitter against the Red Sox in his career, was 1-for-3 Sunday. Jones is 9-for-19 in five games at Fenway Park this season and is a .391 hitter (25-for-64) in Boston since the beginning of the 2014 season.

"It's like J.J. [Hardy] to a point," Showalter said. "It's tough playing a game without either one of them. Matt [Wieters] is one of those guys. Chris [Davis] is one of those guys. Manny [Machado] is starting to graduate some."

With the Orioles down 2-0, Britton overcame a two-out infield single by Brock Holt to pitch a scoreless eighth inning, throwing 17 pitches in the inning. Britton was available Saturday, but the Orioles never had a reason to use him in their 8-0 loss.

"I felt pretty good," Britton said. "A little rusty [with] seven days off but I calmed down after the first hitter. … I think maybe it was a little better that it wasn't a save situation. Obviously we want to win games, but just getting out there and getting my feet wet was good."

Rotation matters

The Orioles announced that right-hander Kevin Gausman will start Wednesday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays on regular rest, but they still have yet to announce a starter for Thursday's series finale against the Blue Jays.

They might not announce Thursday's starter until following Tuesday's game. Showalter said he wanted to see how far right-hander Miguel Gonzalez goes in his first start off the disabled list on Tuesday. Gonzalez will take the spot that's been occupied by rookie right-hander Tyler Wilson the past two turns in the rotation.

Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen has already been pushed back to Friday's series opener against the Yankees. The Orioles have kept Chen away from a Blue Jays team that hits left-handed pitching well. He's faced Toronto just four times in his four seasons in the majors, going 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA. The Jays are hitting .326 against Chen in those four games.

Showalter bemoans expanded rosters

Showalter, whose disdain for September expanded rosters is well-known, pointed out that Saturday's loss — in which the Orioles used seven relievers — was a perfect example that MLB must amend the September roster process.

"They should take the tape of [Saturday's] game when they start talking about doing something about September call-up baseball and they should send that game in and say here's why you don't do it," Showalter said.

Showalter has advocated for teams to submit a list of 25 eligible players before every series, so teams could submit three or four starters and get the benefit of extra relievers. Changes to that list could be made only in certain circumstances, like after injured player is evaluated by an MLB-approved doctor, and all players on the roster, regardless of whether they were on that 25-man series list, would receive service time.

"You could have never have done what they were able to do yesterday, just like us a few years ago," Showalter said, referring to the Orioles knocking the Red Sox out of the playoff race in the final series of 2011. "I think Terry Francona might still be the manager here if we didn't have 40-man baseball. Seriously, take a look at it, but that's why."

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Around the horn

Pitching prospect Hunter Harvey is scheduled to see renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews on Oct. 5, Showalter said. Harvey, who was shelved after feeling elbow and forearm tightness while pitching in instructional league, was evaluated by Orioles team orthopedist Dr. Mike Jacobs. Showalter said an MRI on Harvey's elbow and forearm area was structurally sound. … Davis was at designated hitter for the second consecutive game. Showalter said Saturday he wanted to give Davis some time off defensively because he has a bruised right shin from fouling a ball off his leg. … Showalter gave Hardy a day off on Sunday. Paul Janish started in his place. … LF Nolan Reimold's two outfield assists on Sunday – even though one came after he dropped a fly ball – gave the Orioles a majors leading 46 outfield assists. Machado stole his 18th back for the season, becoming the third player in Orioles history to record 150 hits and 18 steals in a season in a season before his 24th birthday.

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