Baseball players are incredibly superstitious. They dont want to talk about hot streaks fearing theyll suddenly turn cold.Early this month, I made what I thought was a convincing case for Nick Markakis as Most Valuable Oriole. Four days later, his regular season was ended when CC Sabathia broke his left thumb.My earlier case for Markakis was based on his outstanding performance as leadoff hitter and how poorly the Orioles had done after he was hurt earlier in the season. In the two weeks that Markakis has been missing, the Orioles have won nine of 12 games. Nate McLouth has done a terrific job as leadoff hitter and Lew Ford, Chris Davis and Endy Chavez have performed adequately in right field.Since Markakis will miss 58 regular season games, that eliminates him from consideration, though I am voting giving him a third-place vote.Matt Wieters, whos handled the pitching staff brilliantly and Wei-Yin Chen are certainly worthy. Chen is the only starter to stay in the rotation for the entire season and has done an outstanding job in his first season in the U.S.Jim Johnson, who set an Orioles team record for saves this weekend, is an excellent choice.Hes been efficient and dependable. Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Boston on Sunday that Johnson has fewer strikeouts than saves.Because hes not a spectacular reliever, Johnson doesnt get the acclaim hes earned. Theres no flashy entry or celebration antics. Because hes not spectacular, perhaps he has a better chance of continuing his dominance than many other relievers.Johnson has saved 47 games and won two others. One of the wins came in one of his three blown saves. The Orioles won another and lost just one of the three missed chances.He deserves some support.But, the best choice is Adam Jones.Jones has been remarkably consistent, playing every game. His batting average has held up. After the third day of the season, it never fell below .281, and has been in the high .280s this month.Hes had consecutive hitless games just four times this season, and not since a three-game slide the two games preceding the All-Star Game and the one following it. Jones has 31 home runs, and would have had one more if Bostons Cody Ross hadnt robbed him of one in the first inning of Sundays game. He has 79 runs batted in, 99 runs, 175 hits, 37 doubles and 14 stolen bases, career highs in all except for RBIs. Hes just four away.Jones play in center field has gotten better, too, though he has committed eight errors. His efforts were rewarded with a long-term contract extension in May, removing a potential distraction. If he hadnt been signed, Jones would be questioned endlessly about his status.Jones enjoys interacting with fans on his Twitter account, and seems to fit in Baltimore well. If he continues to play as consistently as he has this year, Jones may become one of the most popular athletes in recent history.A year ago, Jones won it though Wieters and J.J. Hardy got lots of support. Ten players have won the award more than once and Jones could become the first back-to-back winner since Rafael Palmeiro in 1995-96.The Jones-Johnson contest for MVO may be close, but when the American League Most Valuable Player is voted on, Jones is likely to get far more support than Johnson.There are times when a pitcher is more valuable than a position player. This isnt one of these times.Jones has impacted more games more consistently than Johnson. Johnson has been superb. Jones has been superb more often.
BALTIMORE -- Mike Clevenger pitched a two-hitter in his first career complete game, and the Cleveland Indians hit three solo homers off Chris Tillman in a 4-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
Jose Ramirez went 3 for 4 with his team-leading fifth home run. Yan Gomes and Yonder Alonso also went deep for Cleveland, which came into the game ranked second-to-last in the AL in runs and last in batting average.
Clevenger (2-0) hardly needed the offensive support. Pitching on seven days' rest, the right-hander struck out three, walked two and allowed only one runner past first base.
The only two hits he allowed were singles by Manny Machado in the fourth inning and Chance Sisco in the fifth.
It was Clevenger's 35th career start. His previous longest outing was 7 1/3 innings, earlier this month against Kansas City.
While Clevenger is unbeaten in 11 starts since July 31, Tillman has experienced an opposite fate. This was his 22nd straight start without a victory, dating back to his first outing last season.
Tillman (0-4) gave up four runs, eight hits and a walk in six innings. The three home runs were one more than he yielded in his first three starts this season.
Michael Brantley hit a run-scoring groundout in the first inning and Gomes connected in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.
The Orioles put runners on the corners with one out in the fourth, their lone threat against Clevenger, who responded by retiring Tim Beckham on a short fly to left and getting Anthony Santander to ground out.
Ramirez led off the sixth with a drive to left, and Alonso hit a two-out shot that landed on Eutaw Street beyond the right-field scoreboard.
DETROIT - Leonys Martin hit his first big league grand slam, Jeimer Candelario had four hits and three RBIs, and the Detroit Tigers beat Baltimore 13-8 Thursday to extend the Orioles' losing streak to six.
Jordan Zimmermann (1-0) gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, allowing two home runs to Manny Machado and one to Chris Davis. Zimmermann was pitching for the first time since being hit in the jaw by a line drove off the bat of Cleveland's Jason Kipnis on April 11.
Alex Cobb (0-2) made his second start after signing a $57 million, four-year contract in spring training and his ERA rose to 15.43. He allowed seven runs - five earned - and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Machado had four RBIs for the Orioles, who were outhit 18-14 in the game and outscored 23-15 in the three-game sweep.
Victor Martinez hit an RBI single in the first, but Davis put Baltimore ahead with a two-run homer in the second, his sixth hit and fourth homer in 10 career at-bats against Zimmermann.
Detroit went ahead for good with four runs in the bottom half after third baseman Tim Beckham's throwing error allowed James McCann to reach base leading off. Jose Iglesias hit a two-run triple, Miguel Cabrera had an RBI single and Nick Castellanos a run-scoring groundout.
Machado's homer in the third cut Baltimore's deficit to 5-2, but Candelario's two-run homer extended the lead to 7-2 in the bottom half. Martin homered off Mike Wright Jr. in a five-run fifth.