BALTIMORE -- Orioles veteran outfielder Adam Jones collected his 1,500th career hit with a fifth-inning single on Monday night, but it was hit 1,501 that mattered more.With Seth Smith standing at first and no outs in the seventh, Jones sent Rays starter Chris Archer's first-pitch into the Camden Yards stands
BALTIMORE -- Orioles veteran outfielder Adam Jones collected his 1,500th career hit with a fifth-inning single on Monday night, but it was hit 1,501 that mattered more.
With Seth Smith standing at first and no outs in the seventh, Jones sent Rays starter Chris Archer's first-pitch into the Camden Yards stands for an eventual game-winning, two-run homer that sealed Baltimore's 5-3 series-opening victory.
"He's always on. He loves to compete," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Jones, who has a knack for coming up in big spots. "That's one thing Jim Leyland was telling me during the [World Baseball Classic]. He didn't realize. He said this guy was so engaged in the competition and winning, and I think that's the thing. Adam is always on and our guys feed off that."
The blast, which came on an 87-mph slider, sailed into left-field stands at an exit velocity of 108.3 mph, the hardest-hit ball by Jones this season according to Statcast™. The homer was Jones' fourth of the season and is tied for his eighth-hardest hit homer in the Statcast™ (since 2015) era.
"Honestly, that last pitch that I threw to him, anybody in their lineup would have done what he did," Archer said, "because it was just the worst possible pitch at the worst possible time with the worst possible outcome."
Jones has been feasting off mistakes for quite a while. In his 12th Major League season, Jones has played the past decade for Baltimore and said hitting the 1,500-mark is another sign he's getting older.
"It means I've been playing this game at a high level for a while," Jones said. "Pretty special to share with all my teammates. It's a tribute to them pushing me when we stand on the field and playing the game hard."
Jones has embodied playing hard day in and day out since coming to Baltimore. One of three homers on the night, with Hyun Soo Kim and Jonathan Schoop going back-to-back in the bottom of the sixth, Showalter commended the center fielder's ability to always set an example.
"In the dugout, there's Adam acting like it's 70 degrees, a sunny day on Sunday with a full house," Showalter said of the cold, rainy night. "That's what separates him from a lot of people."
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.