Negotiations regarding a contract extension between the Baltimore Orioles and Adam Jones appear to have gone well. The team's play on the field lately has not.
Baltimore looks to avoid losing a second consecutive series for the first time this season when its hosts the Kansas City Royals in the finale of a three-game set Sunday.Reports indicate Jones and the Orioles have agreed to a six-year contract worth roughly $85 million -- a seemingly well-deserved deal for the center fielder leading the team in batting average (.309), home runs (14) and RBIs (31)."We have a good team and I've enjoyed it since I've been here, but winning has made it more enjoyable," Jones said.There hasn't been much of that going on lately.Jones is hitting .343 during a 17-game hitting streak after tripling in Saturday's 4-3 defeat to the Royals, marking the fourth loss in six games for Baltimore (29-18) and ending Kansas City's five-game losing streak in Baltimore and three-game skid overall.Jones hit a two-run homer and improved to 7 for 17 (.412) lifetime off Luke Hochevar (3-5, 6.61 ERA) in a 5-3 victory May 17, and the right-hander will be on the mound again for the Royals (18-27).Hochevar is 1-4 with a 7.96 ERA in his last five starts after allowing three runs in 6 2/3 innings of a 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday, though he struck out a season-high eight.The Royals spotted Hochevar a 3-0 lead earlier this month against the Orioles, but he ended up allowing four runs through six innings and suffered the loss. He's 1-5 with a 6.54 ERA in seven career starts versus Baltimore, including 0-3 with a 9.47 ERA in three at Camden Yards.Hochevar was opposed in his last contest versus the Orioles by Brian Matusz (4-4, 4.86), who has been on a roll of late.Matusz got off to a shaky start but has won his last three outings with a 3.00 ERA after allowing one run and striking out a season-high nine in 6 1/3 innings of a 4-1 win over Boston on Tuesday. He had gone 1-4 with a 5.91 ERA in his first six starts."I'm getting my confidence back. I'm going out there and having a game plan, being able to attack the zone," Matusz told the team's official website. "For me, it's about being able to keep getting better each time out. I haven't forgotten what it feels like to lose, so these wins are special."The left-hander beat Hochevar after allowing three runs in six innings, and the Royals will look for a better performance this time around against him.Despite Saturday's victory, Kansas City has lost seven of 10 since winning four straight from May 12-15.Eric Hosmer went 3 for 4 and drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, and Billy Butler hit his 10th homer. Hosmer's double traveled all of 55 feet as Orioles' third baseman Wilson Betemit hoped the ball would roll foul while Hosmer hustled into second base."Greatest double I've ever seen," manager Ned Yost said. "That's a heads-up play by Hosmer to be able to get to second base."Baltimore has won seven of the last 10 matchups.