By the time the All-Star Game reached the 5th inning with the National League up, 8-0, and no Orioles in the game yet, it started to be my feeling that if Adam Jones and Matt Wieters didn’t even play more than an inning, it was fine, since the time off was more important to them, anyway.
Jones and Wieters both entered the game defensively in the top of the 6th. Jones made the first out by flagging down a deep drive in right-center, retiring Rafael Furcal. He also caught the second out on Jay Bruce’s fly ball, and exchanged smiles with 40-year-old Chipper Jones, who had advanced to second base after, let’s generously say, legging out a hit.
Well, it was a clean single to right. The replay, wired for sound, showed him grunting as he ran to first, as if he were thinking, “Oy, I was afraid this would happen.”
Baltimore’s two position players would have to wait until the bottom of the 7th to have a chance to bat.
Wieters was the second batter of the bottom of the 7th, following hometown favorite Billy Butler, who made the first out, and Fox’s Joe Buck took the opportunity to give the second-place Orioles some love. But Wieters, facing Cole Hamels, flied out to Bryce Harper on the warning track in left.
Jones followed Wieters and grounded to first, pitcher covering, for the last out.
Jim Johnson relieves Oakland’s Ryan Cook to face the NL in the 8th inning. Houston’s Jose Altuve grounds to second and is thrown out by a whisker, but doesn’t argue. The Cubs’ Starlin Castro flies lazily to Jones for the second out. Johnson then strikes out Michael Bourn of Atlanta for the third out.
That was Johnson’s only inning, as Tampa Bay’s Fernando Rodney came on the pitch the 9th.
Jones and Wieters played the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th in the field, and Wieters was on deck when Butler struck out for the second out in the bottom of the 9th. NL Manager Ron Roenicke summoned Jonathan Papelbon to face Wieters with Jones on deck and Elvis Andrus on third, but Wieters flied to Jay Bruce in right to end the game.
And that’s that. Wieters finishes 0 for 2, Jones 0 for 1 with two putouts.
When Ken Singleton was in the 1979 All-Star Game representing the pennant-bound Orioles along with Don Stanhouse, he said at the conclusion, “I’m anxious to get home to the important business.” The National League won that game, 7-6, at Seattle’s Kingdome.
Singleton had a career-best 35 homers and 111 RBI that year, finishing second to Don Baylor in the MVP voting. At this stage, the slumping Jones is not MVP material, but the Orioles will need him to approach 35 homers and 100 RBI to have a realistic shot at a wild-card berth. It’s hoped the bit of time off will help Jones’ sore wrists, and that the return on Nick Markakis to the lineup on Friday will, along with Jim Thome behind him, lead to a resurgence.
Now the Oriole contingent can scoot back home to face Detroit in a weekend series starting Friday at Camden Yards. The O’s face the AL Central for the next 11 games, with four at Minnesota and four at Cleveland following the Tiger series.