TORONTO - The Orioles lineup tonight is missing Trey Mancini. He was hit in the right hand by a pitch last night and had his hand wrapped today in the clubhouse earlier. X-rays showed there is no fracture and Mancini is hopeful that he may only have to miss a day or two, or a few at most.
“Trey’s hand is pretty swollen today,” manager Brandon Hyde said during his pregame media briefing. “It’s going to be a few days. We don’t think it’s going to be an IL stint. We got lucky with no fractures last night. But hopefully it’s going to (only) be a few days.”
Any time without Mancini will be challenging for an Orioles team trying to match up on offense with this Toronto club. Mancini is 0-for-5 the last two games but his .797 OPS for the year is 30 percent above league average. And since May 1, he is batting .326/.424/.482/.907 in 38 games.
Kyle Stowers will join Mancini on the bench as tonight’s game starts. With lefty Yusei Kikuchi (2-2, 4.44 ERA) starting for Toronto, Ryan McKenna is in left field tonight, with Cedric Mullins in center and Austin Hays in right. Ryan Mountcastle starts at first base and Adley Rutschman is the DH.
Stowers, the Orioles' No. 8 ranked prospect, per MLBPipeline.com, made his major league debut last night, going 1-for-3 with a seventh-inning RBI double.
“Yeah, with Rougie (Rougned Odor) and Kyle, we’re putting the majority of right-handed guys against Kikuchi, who is really tough against left-handed hitters," said Hyde.
This year Kikuchi yields an OPS of .660 versus lefty batters and .813 against right-handed hitters.
“He’s here to play,” Hyde said of Stowers. “You’ll see him in there tomorrow against (José) Berríos. This is more of a matchup situation with McKenna, and get Richie Martin out there. He had a nice game a couple of days ago. Just trying to match up the best we can.”
Hyde would love to see right-hander Jordan Lyles (3-5, 4.97 ERA) find again the form he showed earlier this season. Lyles had a 4.10 ERA a couple of starts ago, but has allowed 13 earned runs over 14 1/3 innings his past three starts.
“Jordan knows what’s doing. He’s had a couple of starts he’d like to have back," Hyde said. "Jordan has been doing this for a while now, and is facing a really good lineup tonight. I was so impressed with their at-bats last night. These guys don’t chase and they can hit the ball out of the ballpark. They have a real nice middle-of-the field approach. They have a bunch of guys that do so much damage. Tough lineup to navigate because they don’t expand."
Hyde would also love to see some consistency from his club, which in the last four games had 8-1 and 11-1 losses bookending two wins in which they scored a total of 16 runs.
“We did not play well in Kansas City for the first two and a half games," he said. "For me, we just took young at-bats. You know we’ve also got to learn you play 27 outs. We do play 27, but when you get down early, - you know our starting pitchers have had a tough time the last couple weeks - that we do have the ability to come back and stay in the game. That has been a bit difficult for us this last month. When we do get down early, to be able to grind out at-bats and get yourself back in the game. And our starting pitchers have to help our hitters."
Meanwhile, the Orioles' high Single-A affiliate, the Aberdeen IronBirds (38-18), have a magic number of three to clinch the first-half South Atlantic League North Division championship and a playoff berth. They can wrap it up tonight with a doubleheader sweep and a Wilmington loss.