The lineup the Orioles trotted out to open a three-game series with the Reds on Tuesday was far from the one they envisioned when they started the season. Their final four hitters: Jimmy Paredes, Caleb Joseph, Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Schoop. And still they managed to down Cincinnati, 5-4, and open up a 9 1/2-game lead on the Yankees in the American League East.
On Wednesday, when they continue the series at 7:05 p.m. ET at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the O's expect to have shortstop J.J. Hardy back in the lineup to bring even more depth to an offense that has managed just fine without him.
Hardy sat out Tuesday with lower back spasms.
"I felt as normal as I could and [manager Buck Showalter] just wanted to make sure and give it one more day, but I'll be ready," Hardy said. "Obviously, I want to play, but I think it's probably the smart thing to do."
Reds pitcher Dylan Axelrod (1-0) will be the latest tasked with trying to slow down the Orioles' explosive offense in his third start of the season. He's been good so far, though, allowing two runs in a combined 11 innings against the Rockies and Cubs.
"They have a lineup that has power, top to bottom," Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said. "You know what? It's a great way for us to go out there and continue to be challenged to play our best game to win, as we've been chasing that consistency."
Baltimore starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez will be making his third start since being recalled from the Minors, but he started 20 games before the brief stint. Gonzalez (7-7) has a 3.61 ERA this season and a 2.61 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break.
Orioles: Miller day to day after hurting leg
Andrew Miller tweaked his left leg on his final pitch of the O's loss to the Twins on Monday, and the reliever is considered day to day.
Miller has had issues with his left hamstring in the past, but the O's are hopeful that this was just a cramp and not a hamstring issue.
"This one he said was nothing like the [previous] two," Showalter said. "We won't use the 'H' word. I'm hoping it was more of a cramping than a hamstring."
Reds: Hamilton sets rookie steals mark
After leading off Tuesday's game with an infield single, Billy Hamilton did what he does best. The rookie outfielder took off for second and ran right into Cincinnati's record books.
Hamilton swiped second with ease for his 55th steal of the season, a new rookie record for the club. The previous mark held by Bob Bescher stood for 105 years.
• Outfielder Quintin Berry, who was called up by the O's on Tuesday, is a perfect 24-for-24 in his career on stolen-base attempts.
• When Nelson Cruz drove in a run during the first inning on Tuesday, the outfielder set a new career high with 91 RBIs for the season.
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.