OAKLAND – Trey Mancini believes first base umpire Rob Drake made the wrong call. When he was called out on the play in the top of the fourth today, it led to his first career ejection in the bottom half. It also – and these two may have been related – led to the Orioles scoring in three of their next four at-bats.
And while they lost to the Athletics 6-4 today, Mancini hoped his ejection not only may have lit a fire under his teammates on offense today, but that the fire keeps burning this weekend for the next series against the Angels.
With two outs and none on in the fourth, and the O’s down 2-0, Mancini’s grounder up the middle bounced off pitcher Paul Blackburn toward second base. It was fielded by the A’s Nick Allen, but his low throw went behind first baseman Seth Brown. But not far enough for Mancini to take another base on a play scored E4. Mancini had one small sort of jab step where he was just inside fair territory. As he strolled back to first after running through the bag, catcher Sean Murphy grabbed the ball and tagged him.
Drake called Mancini out for apparently attempting to go to second base. Two pitches into the last of the fourth, Mancini was jawing at Drake from the dugout and was ejected. Moments later, so was O’s manager Brandon Hyde.
The O’s offense, which to that point in the series had produced three runs in 31 innings, then produced four in the next four innings, but they lost to fall to 4-9, going 1-3 in this series while scoring seven total runs.
“Never for one second did I think about going to second base,” Mancini said in the Orioles clubhouse. “Just turned around to my left and walked back to the bag. If it had even crossed my mind to go to second base, I would have made sure to get back to the bag quickly.
“So I was very surprised and couldn’t believe it. And I want to apologize for the language I used and the way I conveyed my message to Rob. But I still don’t agree with the call. He said I made an attempt to go to second base, which I didn’t agree with clearly.”
I asked Mancini if the offense’s rally meant they had his back after he was tossed?
“Maybe," he said. "We’ve been in a rut offensively and I was hoping it would maybe light a little bit of a fire under us. Switch up the mojo or something, because it’s a mix of us pressing, there’s certainly been a lot of bad luck in there, but at the same time we haven’t, you know, been doing the best job as a unit. I was kind of hoping after I was out of the game that the tide would maybe turn a little bit and we did have a couple rallies there.
“Yeah, I hope so (the late runs carries into the weekend). It’s been a really strange first couple weeks. I think our pitchers have been doing an incredible job. As an offense we want to help them out. And we obviously have a lot of games to go and there are a lot of improvements to be made and I know this offense and the guys we have in there and I believe in all these guys. I know we're going to turn it around, but that doesn’t also make it not frustrating. You want to go out there and put up numbers as unit and be the offense we can be.”
Mancini seemed to agree that he should have been ejected, right call or not.
“I certainly probably kept arguing, so I’m not really going to say what should have happened at all," he said. "Yeah, took me awhile but it was my first time getting ejected from a game and I don’t plan for it to happen again anytime soon. But like I said, I was very displeased and thought we had a chance for a two-out rally. Just was pretty upset with what happened."
Hyde had a similar take on the play at first.
“Well I mean, an umpire said he had an intent to go to second base and I just didn’t see any intent by Trey," said Hyde. "I thought he just squared up and went back to first base. Trey thought he did the same thing. They told us to look at it and we did. From our view, there was no intent there.”
Down 2-0, Austin Hays’ RBI double brought the O’s within 2-1 in the fifth, but a two-run homer by Murphy off Keegan Akin gave Oakland a 4-1 lead. The O’s cut into that when Rougned Odor and Hays added RBI singles in the seventh to make it 4-3. But they stranded two runners there and Oakland added on to its lead.
Akin and Dillon Tate gave up two runs each as the O’s bullpen allowed four over 5 2/3 innings. The O’s ‘pen entered with an ERA of 2.47 and had allowed just two earned runs over the past four games.
Starting pitcher Tyler Wells struggled for the second time in three outings. He allowed two runs and five hits in 2 1/3 innings and has an ERA of 6.75.
“I just don’t think Tyler had great command today,” Hyde said. “That third inning he was at 31, 32 pitches there, so I had to get him out of the game at that point. For me, he just wasn’t real sharp and left some balls middle that got hit. Hopefully, he bounces back and learns from it.”
And the O's hope a little momentum they had on offense from the fifth inning on today shows up starting Friday night at Angels Stadium.
Their four runs today has been exceeded in just one game this year by the club, by that late five-run rally last Sunday versus the Yankees. Small steps, but Hyde admitted his team needs to take those steps and more.
“That was good to see, we just need to do more of it," he said. "We need to put more at-bats together throughout the game. We’re not putting enough good at-bats together. We didn’t hit a home run the whole series, it was pretty surprising."