Orioles thoughts and observations on the defense, Adam Jones and more

The Orioles have to be feeling good about themselves heading into their three-game series in Arizona against the Diamondbacks tonight. They took two of three from a Jekyll-and-Hyde San Francisco Giants team that can play well enough to be defending World Series champions one day and can then stink up the joint the next.

The Orioles showed a lot of moxie in their 10-2 win on Sunday. As good as the offense was in the later innings, I really think that game was won by defense. If Adam Jones doesn’t make a nice running snag on Brandon Crawford, the second batter in the bottom of the first inning, starter Bud Norris could have had a long day. Then, Nate McLouth’s sliding grab ended a scoring threat in the second. And J.J. Hardy’s catch in foul territory on Brandon Belt gave the Orioles a big out against a hitter who spent all series on base.

Big plays like that often get unnoticed, especially when a team scores 10 or more runs, but they kept the game close until the bats could warm up. If not for those plays, a two-run deficit might have been a five-run deficit. There’s a big difference there.

Bud Norris didn't seem happy that he was pulled after five innings when his time was up in the order. He told Buck Showalter he could go longer -- maybe to 120 pitches -- but Showalter pulled him at 98.

"I can tell you he wasn’t happy about coming out of the game," Showalter said. "He was 98, 99, which is an average number of pitches he throws anyway. He tries to tell me he throws 120 every time out. It’s 98 that he averages. I can in all good conscience call [out] Bud.”

But as the Orioles left San Francisco, the talk was about Jones’ postgame tweet claiming that a banana was thrown from the stands in his direction in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Jones has nearly 130,000 followers, so word of the incident spread quickly. The Giants didn’t receive any reports of an incident in center field in the ninth inning, but the club said it will review the security cameras Monday. I’ve heard from one club source that Jones has already put the incident behind him. I’ll have what Jones has to say tomorrow during the pregame clubhouse availability.

Scott Feldman will start Monday’s series opener against the Diamondbacks. He’s 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three career appearances (two starts) against Arizona.

Jones goes into Monday’s game with a nine-game hitting streak. Hardy has an eight-game hitting streak.

A win Monday can clinch a winning record on the road trip, but the Orioles obviously want more. They’re 1 1/2 games back of the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics for the American League wild card spots.

The Rays have suddenly come back down to Earth, having lost five straight. And Cleveland is starting to fade in the AL wild card race, but keep an eye out for the surging Kansas City Royals, who are just 4 1/2 games out of the wild card spots after winning 15 of their last 18.

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