NEW YORK - When Orioles bench coach John Russell posts the lineup later this morning after retrieving it from manager Buck Showalter, it’s going to include Trey Mancini in the leadoff spot. There’s no motivation to lower him. There’s no one else who’s a more logical fit.
Mancini is batting .200, but he’s been denied on multiple occasions, including Josh Reddick’s leaping catch in Houston that robbed him of a three-run homer. He smoked a grounder up the middle last night that skipped off the mound and turned into a 4-3 putout on a backhanded stop and throw by Tyler Wade, who was shaded toward shortstop.
Line drives have been caught. Mancini, who reached last night on an error and two walks - the second leading off the decisive 14th inning - has been out on close plays. The baseball gods have toyed with him.
Nothing seems to rattle him.
“Trey’s way too consistent a human being to worry about that,” Showalter said earlier this week. “It only toughens him. And he’s not the kind of guy who continues to make the same mistake, so he’s the least of my worries.
“I think everybody in baseball that’s on the field, as far as batting order and stuff like that, the players don’t really ... They’re really short conversations. They just want to score more runs than the other team after nine innings.”
* Chris Tillman makes his second start today after giving up four runs and seven hits over four innings in Houston. He also walked four batters and didn’t record a strikeout.
Tillman is 8-8 with a 5.54 ERA and 1.661 WHIP in 22 career games (21 starts) against the Yankees, and 4-5 with a 7.63 ERA and 1.966 WHIP in 11 games (10 starts) in the Bronx. The 2017 season, as you’d expect, was especially brutal for Tillman, as he allowed 15 runs and 18 hits in seven innings versus the Yankees, with five walks and six home runs.
Didi Gregorius, who tends to get overshadowed by New York’s sea of sluggers, is 11-for-20 (.550) with five doubles, one triple and one home run against Tillman. Aaron Judge is 2-for-5 with a home run.
Right-handers and left-handers have posted an identical .258 career average against Tillman.
Sonny Gray had an uneven debut for the Yankees Sunday in Toronto, where he allowed only one run and recorded eight strikeouts, but also gave up seven hits with three walks in only four innings.
Gray is 2-4 with a 5.28 ERA and 1.533 WHIP in six career starts against the Orioles. Tim Beckham is 6-for-13 with a double and two home runs against Gray, Adam Jones is 5-for-14 with a double and home run, and Caleb Joseph is 4-for-11 with three doubles. Jonathan Schoop is 3-for-8.
For Joseph to stay in the lineup, he’d have to catch a day game following an incredibly long night game, and that’s not the usual course of action. Chance Sisco will be behind the plate.
Beckham could use an edge. He struck out five times last night and has fanned eight times in the last two games. He has 15 strikeouts in 32 at-bats and has drawn only one walk.
* Left-hander Richard Bleier owns a career 0.44 ERA in 17 games at Yankee Stadium. He’s allowed one earned run in 20 innings.
* Givens prevented Gregorius from scoring the winning run last night in the 11th inning by covering the plate - literally - after the ball got past Joseph. Givens received the throw and applied the tag while putting up a blockade on a diving Gregorius.
The Yankees challenged that Givens illegally blocked the plate.
“Replay has the ultimate voice in that and there was no blocking the plate,” crew chief Jerry Meals told a pool reporter. “He, in that situation, the player is deemed to be (occupying) the area to save the ball and/or has the ball.
“If he’s going to receive the ball in that situation, then he’s allowed to occupy that space if he’s in the act of receiving it.”
* Pedro Álvarez’s grand slam in the 14th inning gave him the most RBIs in a game since he drove in five runs on June 21, 2016 against the Padres.
Do the last two games, both wins, make it a little easier to accept what happened earlier? This team was reeling when it left Houston.
“We played some good teams, seen some good pitching,” Álvarez said. “Some of those games could have gone either way, you know? We just have to take it one game at a time. Obviously, we want to get some wins. Obviously, these two wins are very good. Very good quality wins against a very good team. Any time we can come up on the winning side, especially against a team like the Yankees, it’s a big plus.”
* The organization is buzzing over Branden Kline’s debut Thursday night with Single-A Frederick. And it wasn’t just the two scoreless innings.
Kline, a Frederick native who’s recovered from Tommy John surgery in October 2015 and a few setbacks along the way, got his fastball up to 97 mph. He hadn’t pitched since May 2015.
“He’s been a real pleasant surprise,” Showalter said. “Brian (Graham) wants to get him going in Frederick, get him healthy and everything. That’s interesting.”
The Orioles drafted Kline in the second round in 2012 out of the University of Virginia.