Jones' move to leadoff aids O's Wild Card push

July 25th, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG -- The O's are gaining ground, having won six of their last eight games including Monday's 5-0 win over the Rays. It should come as no surprise that has picked up steam at the same time.

Baltimore began the second half with Jones penciled in at the leadoff spot for the first time all year. He went 1-for-12 in his first three games in the role as the Cubs swept Baltimore, but has clicked since then. During his past seven games, he's 16-for-33 (.485) with four homers and 11 RBIs, including a 411-foot shot off on Monday.

"He's really been a spark for us here," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "Adam's swinging the bat well. He told me the home run was one of the easiest swings he's taken all year. He just put his hands inside the ball."

It's no secret that Jones is important to the O's offense. His 19th home run Monday gave him nine consecutive seasons with at least that many homers. He's also driven in runs in six consecutive games to tie the longest streak in O's history for a leadoff batter.

Driving in runs is no longer as important for Jones as setting up his teammates to do so. He's scored runs in eight consecutive games, boosting sluggers such as No. 3 hitter , who drove in 16 runs over a seven-game stretch to win the most recent American League Player of the Week honors.

"I think any leadoff hitter that gets on base helps the team," Jones said. "I'm able to run the bases well. We've got Manny [Machado], Schoop, [Chris Davis], [Mark] Trumbo, [Trey] Mancini. I get on base, chances of me scoring seem pretty good."

Jones' scoring has been a boon for Baltimore. The O's are 30-12 this season when Jones scores a run and 17-33 when he plays and does not score. They're 1-6 when he's out of the lineup.

The O's are 3 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race and have picked up their play as Tampa Bay struggles. Jones will be a focal point of the offense as Baltimore attempts to continue its climb.