Jones jump-starts offense batting leadoff

Center fielder hits first for first time since 2010

Jones jump-starts offense batting leadoff

CLEVELAND -- Sometimes when the going gets tough, changes need to be made. That was certainly the mindset of Orioles manager Buck Showalter leading up to the O's 6-4 victory over the Indians on Friday, when he inserted center fielder Adam Jones in the leadoff spot for the first time since May 6, 2010.

"I don't like to get too predictable," Showalter said. "Like my sister used to say, 'It's great to be organized.' Every once and awhile, you got to be a little spontaneous."

The spontaneous decision led the Orioles to a 6-4 victory over the Indians. Jones was vital in the team's two-run victory, going 3-for-5 with a trio of singles. It was just his ninth multi-hit game of the season and second three-hit affair in 2016.

"This one worked out for the better," Showalter said after the game. "The problem when you do that as a manager is, what are young to do tomorrow if he goes 0-for-5 with five punchouts? Things like that you can only do if you trust good players."

In the first, Jones opened things up with a leadoff single into center, snapping an 0-for-10 slump entering Friday night. He would later score on RBI single by shortstop Manny Machado. The top of the order followed Jones' lead, as the first four batters reached and helped Baltimore jump out to an early 3-0 lead.

In his second at-bat, Jones yanked a single into right. It was enough to give Jones his first multi-hit game since May 15. During that span of nine games, Jones was 3-for-37 with 10 strikeouts. The struggles reached peak level in his previous series against Houston, in which the center fielder went 1-for-14 with seven whiffs. Baltimore also set a Major League series record by striking out 52 times against the Astros. The 52 whiffs led to the team suffering its first sweep of the season, and Jones' seven strikeouts were the second highest on the team.

"It's just a different look for everybody," Showalter said. "Right now, everyone is having those challenges. You are as good as your last game, and you are as bad as your last game."

But it wasn't just Jones. Baltimore entered the opener on a four-game skid. The offense has been the major culprit for the team's longest losing streak of the season, forcing Showalter to shake up the starting lineup a bit at Progressive Field.

"We had Adam, Chris [Davis], and [Mark] Trumbo hitting back-to-back," Showalter said. "When they collectively swing and miss a lot as a group, you try to break it up a bit. This is the first time it has really happened with all three of them."

Showalter said before the game he had four options for Jones, which included moving him down in the order or giving him the day off. He chose to start Jones at the leadoff spot for just the 22nd time in his career.

However, despite Jones' success in the leadoff role, Showalter wasn't ready to admit after the game if he was committing to Jones in that spot.

"We'll see. I haven't got that far," Showalter said.

Worth noting
• Right-hander Yovani Gallardo (right shoulder tendinitis) will throw a simulated game on Saturday. Showalter indicated that it would be between two and three innings. He has been on the 15-day DL since April 23.

• Infielder J.J. Hardy (left foot fracture) is "moving towards baseball activities," according to the Orioles' manager. Showalter is hoping Hardy will be able to work with the team when Baltimore heads back home after this three-game set. He was placed on the 15-day DL on May 3.

Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.