Long a solid center fielder and one of baseball's best baserunners, Curtis Granderson has turned into a beast at the plate since working with New York Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long to rework his swing.
The Orioles, who got a short outing from starter Chris Jakubauskas and another punchless performance by the offense, are a season-high seven games under .500 after a 5-1 loss to the Cardinals. ... Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail touched base with J.J. Hardy's agent this week to begin talks about a potential contract extension for the hot-hitting shortstop. ... The inability of the Baltimore rotation to go deep into games led to the release of reliever Clay Rapada on Wednesday. ... All signs point to the NFL and players inching closer to a labor agreement that would not only save the season but keep training camps and exhibition games intact. ... Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom won't race again this season.
Brian Roberts still isn't ready to give a timetable for his return, but the Orioles second baseman feels he is making legitimate progress for the first time since starting to experience concussion symptoms May 16. ... Orioles starter Chris Jakubauskas faces a rematch with Lance Berkman, the hitter who put him in the hospital with a hard line drive to the head. Jakubauskas will start Wednesday against the Cardinals. Zach Britton pitches the opener Tuesday, and Brian Matusz is listed as Thursday's starter. ... Former Orioles manager Davey Johnson lost his Nationals debut on Monday. ... The Capitals hope Troy Brouwer will provide some elusive leadership.