TORONTO – The Orioles are pretty excited about both the present and future for some of their young hitters like Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays. But now, in addition to giving the team quality production, they are coming up with big hits at big times.
Last night's 6-5 win at Toronto was the latest example. Mountcastle got them started with a two-run shot to right field in the third inning for a 2-0 lead. In the fifth, after the Orioles had been tied 3-3 and saw a two-run lead disappear, Hays hit a leadoff homer for the 4-3 edge.
“They are just starting to pile up major league at-bats,” manager Brandon Hyde said today discussing the pair after they combined for four hits, three runs and three RBIs on Tuesday night. “Kind of like these guys over here (with Toronto). They’ve got some special, special young players that are now in their third, fourth, fifth years and the improvement that they’ve shown is remarkable. They have some superstar-type players.
“Our guys over here, like Hays, (Cedric) Mullins, Mountcastle, now that they are in their third, fourth, fifth years you are seeing improvement every year with the at-bats that they take that are really good. Mountcastle hit that ball to right-center, that ball is down and he hits it 400 plus feet. Haysie takes a sinker and hits it out to center field. Both of them have elite bat speed and power to all fields. That doesn’t come around all the time.”
Hyde said Mountcastle is rounding into form with his bat after a three extra-base hit night. Over his past 14 games he’s batting .296 with an OPS of 1.054 and 12 of his 16 hits have gone for extra bases with seven doubles and five homers.
“Look at his swing, I watched it this morning. That’s a sinker down, a short finish, he drops his eye down to the ball and stays on it and stays through it so well. Even the double down the right-field line. He didn’t hit it 100-plus (mph) but still a good piece of hitting. He goes right-field line, left-field line, pretty good night.”
Tonight the O’s hope that lefty Bruce Zimmermann gets back on track on the mound as he faces the Blue Jays. After pitching to an ERA of 2.72 his first seven starts, that number is 9.47 over his last five. And he gave up a season-high seven runs on Friday at Kansas City.
“The last handful of starts for me, it’s the offspeed stuff that has been in the middle part of the plate, thigh-high, bad counts, bad situations,” Hyde said of the lefty. “Instead of earlier in the year he would bury that slider with two strikes and the changeup would have more depth. Maybe a little bit less off of it to get the swing and miss.
"Right now, when he’s gotten into trouble it’s just been too easy for a hitter to adjust to the offspeed. Like the way he threw the sinker his last start, thought he got more aggressive with that and we saw what he can do earlier in the year. When he has command of his slider and changeup and he throws them strike-to-ball with a good sinker he’s going to have some success. Hopefully he gets back to that tonight.”
Hyde said Zimmermann has thrown fewer changeups in recent starts because he didn’t have the same feel for it and he’s been working to improve that.
The Orioles today added a player when they claimed infielder Jonathan Araúz off waivers from Boston and designated left-hander Zac Lowther for assignment. The 40-man roster remains full.
Araúz, 23, will report to Triple-A Norfolk. He went 0-for-10 in six games this season and is 30-for-147 (.204) with five doubles, four home runs and 18 RBIs in 59 games with the Red Sox over parts of three seasons. He can play shortstop, second base and third base.
“Seen him a little bit in Boston last couple of years, he’s been up and down,” Hyde said. “Guy that can play the middle of the field. Bat from the left side. We’re trying to get guys that can play the middle of the field. When he became available our guys he was someone to take chance on and he’ll be in Norfolk for us.”
Hyde said the timeline on Trey Mancini’s sore right hand is the same. He missed last night’s game after being hit in the hand on Monday night.
“It’s going to be day-to-day. He’s a lot better today, which is good news. Hopefully he wakes up tomorrow feeling even better. We’ll see if he’s in the game or not, I’m not sure. It’s still a little bit sore, little swollen, but big improvement from yesterday," he said.