Mancini on potential arrival soon of Rutschman and other notes

Trey Mancini seemed to be choosing his words a bit carefully. He didn’t want any misunderstanding. But when I asked him recently about the possible arrival soon of top prospect Adley Rutschman, he let it be known the clubhouse will embrace him with open arms.

He also wanted us to know the team is getting better before our eyes this season and working very hard on what they need to do each day with the current roster. They seem focused on the day-to-day business of baseball and are not looking too far down the road. They can leave that to media and fans to ponder and speculate about when we will see Rutschman in Baltimore.

“It’s cool (he could arrive soon), but at the same time, I want to word this correctly, like we’re worried about here and now,” said Mancini, during the last homestand. “We know guys are coming and it’s exciting. But at the same time, I think we are more paying attention to who is here now. And what is going on around here.

“Whenever they come up it’s going to be awesome and we’re going to show them the ropes. But, you know, it’s major league baseball at the same time, too. When the whole crew of guys comes up, I think they’re going to be really good and be here for a long time. There will be some great teams.

"But it’s a tough division, too. There definitely is a bit of a learning curve at times. I think we have enough guys here and the culture has been really good that we can show them the ropes. I think it’s going to be really good. We’re really excited for him to come up, and a lot of other guys. But at the same time, we are more focused on the day-to-day and trying to win ballgames right now.”

Rutschman’s average at Triple-A is now .188 (3-for-16) after five games with Norfolk. In the Tides’ 9-7 loss to Memphis last night he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and he is 0-for-6 the past two games.

Including his previous games with high Single-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie, Rutschman is batting .341/.471/.563/.934 over 12 games for three different teams.

Outfielder Ryan McKenna hit three home runs for Norfolk Wednesday night. He hit a solo homer in the first, a solo shot in the seventh and two-run homer in the eighth. So he had a 3-for-5 day with three runs and four RBIs. McKenna has hit three homers in seven Triple-A games this season and hit 11 with an OPS of 1.106 in 27 Tides games in 2021. That is 14 Triple-A homers his past 34 games. 

The last Norfolk player before McKenna with a three-homer game was Ryan Mountcastle, on June 2, 2019. Last night was the eighth time this was done in Norfolk franchise history.

The Orioles and St. Louis play the rubber match contest of this three-game series later today. And while the Orioles' starting pitcher is not yet announced, St. Louis is starting flamethrowing right-hander Jordan Hicks (1-2, 3.78 ERA). Hicks' last four appearances have been starts when he has gone two innings, then three, 3 1/3 and 4 1/3 innings. In those games he has thrown 46, 42, 63 and 68 pitches.

Hicks ranks in the top one percent in the major leagues in average fastball velocity, at 98.8 mph, and he gets a 57.7 whiff rate on his slider. While Hicks can light up the radar gun, his current average velocity is actually the lowest of his career. He averaged 100.5 mph in 2018 and 101.2 mph in 2019. His average velocity was 99.3 last season.

The Orioles' 10-1 loss last night was their most lopsided defeat of the season, topping the 8-0 loss in the third game of the year versus Tampa Bay.

Right-hander Spenser Watkins allowed seven runs and eight hits over 3 2/3 innings, ending the four-game run of quality starts from Baltimore starting pitchers. That was a season high for runs allowed by an O's starter.

The O's had scored 33 runs in going 5-1 heading into last night before they were held to just one run on five hits. 

Their team ERA increased last night from 3.59 (seventh in the American League) to 3.82 (10th in AL).

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