Trey Mancini stood at his locker tonight with his right middle finger wrapped and a few jokes at the ready.
It was safe to laugh after an X-ray came back negative.
Mancini was hit on the right hand while swinging at an inside pitch from Blue Jays reliever John Axford in the Orioles’ 5-3 victory at Camden Yards. He stayed in the game and singled to right field, took his position in left after a few practice throws and left in the top of the ninth.
Being off Thursday will give Mancini more time to heal before the series opener in Boston.
“His ball runs a lot and for some reason I decided to swing at that pitch and I learned the hard way that I shouldn’t have done that,” Mancini said. “Yeah, it hit my hand when I swung. My middle finger actually in particular. Everything’s OK, though. Got a precautionary X-ray, nothing broken, so yeah, I’m good.
“It’s possible that it swells (overnight), but if it’s not broken, then it’s definitely something I can play through. Could have been worse, but again, I learned a lesson there, at least. Not to swing at a pitch that inside.”
Manager Buck Showalter initially feared that Mancini broke his hamate bone. Head athletic trainer Brian Ebel put him through a series of tests on the field, checking his grip and bending back the fingers. A couple of practice swings followed and Mancini completed the at-bat.
“You never really have a good gauge when you’re up there because you have some adrenaline going and you want to finish the at-bat and all that. But yeah, after a couple innings, that all kind of wears off and it starts to hurt a little bit,” said Mancini, who’s hit in a lot of tough luck this season while going 13-for-51 (.255).
“I was more concerned about throwing from the outfield. That’s the finger I used most when I throw the ball. Yeah, that was a concern, but no, it felt decent at least. I felt like I could have played.
“There’s a little pain for sure, but again, thankful we have an off-day tomorrow and I think after that I’ll be good to go.”
Showalter said tonight marked “step one of the levels of X-rays, as we’ve learned over the years.”
“I didn’t know the ball had hit him until I got up there,” Showalter said, “and he was kicking himself, saying ‘That’s what I deserve for swinging at that pitch.’”
Mancini played catch in front of the dugout after the inning to make certain that he could throw.
“Yeah, we made him do that because he was just going to run out to left field,” Showalter said. “Brian was already on it. I told him, ‘Just make sure he can grip the ball and throw.’
“I’m looking at the batting order to see where he is next inning. I don’t think we’re going to take a step back defensively with (Anthony) Santander in right and (Craig) Gentry there. I almost ran for him at first, but the game was close and I knew that his at-bat would come again. He had shown that he was able to hit with it.”
The Orioles did more hitting tonight than usual, exceeding their offensive production of the previous two nights with a three-run fourth inning against Marco Estrada.
“And against another good pitcher,” Showalter said. “We had some situations we really could have opened it up, but I thought the last out of the sixth inning from Kevin (Gausman) was big. That kind of set up the rest of the game for us out of the bullpen, where we were.”
“Because Darren had a one up and in, Bleier was one up and in, and Brach was one up and in. we were fortunate we got that last out there,” Showalter said. “But, some better at-bats. I hope it’s kind of coinciding with a little warmer weather, but you know it dropped about 15 degrees the last hour.”
Jonathan Schoop, 0-for-13 with seven strikeouts with runners in scoring position, had an RBI double in the fourth and run-scoring single in the fifth that knocked out Estrada.
“Jon, you know, like I said, you love to see good things happen to people who work hard at it,” Showalter said. “It’s just a reminder, this guy, the number of runs he scored last year, the number of runs he drove in, what he hit, what he did for us. And Jon, he wants to do it every night.
“He worked hard. He works hard and he never assumes everything. It’s like he’s playing to establish himself every night, so I’m glad to see him get something back for it.”
Chris Davis also felt a measure of redemption with his first two-hit game since Sept. 22, 2017. He lined an RBI single to right field in the fourth inning and singled to left in the seventh.
“It’s nice to have two hits instead of one,” he said. “Somedays, I’ll take one instead of none. So, ultimately the goal is to win the game, so it was nice to feel like I contributed and, obviously, great to get a W.”
Davis said he felt like he had better at-bats tonight. It wasn’t just an improvement in results.
“I did. I did,” he said. “I felt better the last couple days in BP, but that doesn’t always translate into success in games. But I know it’s there. It’s hard sometimes to trust the process, but that’s really all you can do.
“I thought we did a great job tonight of just hanging in there, getting the runs when we could and not trying to do too much, and it resulted in a win for us. So, hopefully, we can build off of that.”
Davis was booed again after striking out on three pitches to end the second inning. The reaction has built during the homestand. Small crowds can have a loud voice.
“It’s nice knowing you were hearing those, too and it wasn’t just me,” Davis said when asked about the crowd’s response. “Amidst the boos, there are always people picking me up. I think our fan base understands the amount of work that goes into it, the effort that is there on a night-in, night-out basis. But ultimately, I know they want results. I don’t like the boos but I understand their frustration. But honestly, I hear more positive things throughout the game then I do boos and that’s really what picks me up and I try to do that on a consistent basis.
“I try to pick guys up around here. I know when I’m not swinging the bat well it shows up, but I want to let the guys know I’m behind them and that I know they can get the job done when I can’t.”
Davis, now 5-for-41 with two RBIs, hit the reset button after the first at-bat and lined a changeup from Estrada to the base of the out-of-town scoreboard.
“To me, it’s taking the results out of it,” he said. “Obviously they weren’t the results I wanted, but I was actually trying to accomplish something there and despite the end result, I accomplished what I wanted to. When you’re not going how you want to, you have to simplify it and just try to find one thing and focus on that, so I was proud of myself for hanging in there.
“I’m going to do that. I think over the course of my career, it’s always been a grind at times, but you stay in there and get your work in and at the end of the day, you trust the process.”
Said Showalter: “He had better results tonight, you know? We talked about I believe in here about how much discipline it takes to have any success off Estrada. He broke out a cutter in about the fifth or sixth inning. He was basically fastball-changeup, which we knew he would be. I think he threw three pure breaking balls the first five or six innings ... So Chris, you could tell he had an approach he was trying to stay with.”
Following the game, the Orioles optioned Yefry Ramirez to Triple-A Norfolk and will bring up a left-handed reliever on Thursday. Ramirez goes back into the Tides’ rotation.
Here are more postgame quotes:
Gausman on his start: “It was good. Obviously, not trying to give up a run in the first inning. It’s something I need to figure out. I’ve done it every start so far, but really in my career that first inning has kind of killed me, so I need to figure that out. But overall it was good. I felt like I got better as the game went on. My command got better. I felt even my misses were in the direction that I was trying to do, so yeah, it was good.”
Gausman on splitter: “It was good. It was something early in spring that I kind of wanted to start throwing earlier. At the beginning of the season last year, I didn’t really have a feel for it. I think that’s one thing that’s kind of benefited so far this year. Just got a really good feel for it right now.”
Gausman on offense breaking out: “It’s good. Obviously, this is a hitter’s ballpark. One game can turn it around real quick. Just like yesterday, I feel like Trey hit every ball hard except for his last at-bat and could have had easily two doubles, maybe even three doubles. There are some things that haven’t gone our way, guys hitting the ball really hard, but also pitchers have been doing a real good job against us.”
Showalter on Gausman: “Getting better. When he had to reach back toward the end he went and got it. He knew he had one more hitter to try to get. His command was better for the most part. I hate using that thing, he made big pitches when he had to ...Pitching six innings against an American League East lineup is hard. Kevin did it tonight. All the things that happen in a game, the starting pitcher is the difference-maker.”
Showalter on Manny Machado’s spectacular backhanded stop and throw: “I kept telling everybody that he would make some plays that most shortstops can’t make. That was one of them. No one can generate that type of arm strength from that angle. Some of them might plant and jump up in the air and whatever, but none of these guys can generate that type of arm speed from that angle. Go out there and try that at home sometime.”