Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has been waiting for his offense to ignite. Trying various combinations, sitting certain guys, seeking out favorable matchups if they exist.
It takes some digging.
Twelve runs were scored in the first five games following the All-Star break. Multiple players have been fighting slumps and losing the battle.
The Nationals recalled two pitchers from Triple-A to start in the series and the Orioles had their hands full. Austin Voth held them to one run in six innings in the opener and Erick Fedde did the same tonight, with manager Davey Martinez yanking him after 66 pitches and his team ahead 2-1.
The bullpen removed the wheel boot from the offense. Martinez used three relievers in the seventh and the Orioles scored three runs and cruised to a 9-2 victory to avoid the sweep before an announced crowd of 20,786 at Camden Yards.
Trey Mancini produced his sixth career multi-homer game and the Orioles improved to 29-66 overall and 13-35 at home. The Nationals lost for only the fourth time in 17 games.
Mychal Givens stranded two inherited runners in the eighth and recorded the four-out save, a nice cushion provided after the Orioles sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Mancini drew a leadoff walk in the decisive seventh and Chance Sisco lined a single into center field. Mancini raced to third on Renato Núñez’s fly ball and Anthony Santander and Chris Davis followed with consecutive run-scoring singles for a 3-2 lead.
Jonathan Villar reached in the eighth on second baseman Brian Dozier’s error and Mancini followed with a two-run shot off Javy Guerra into the first row of seats in left field. Singles by Sisco and Núñez off Guerra and Santander’s sacrifice fly off Matt Grace expanded the lead and the Orioles kept going.
Ruiz and Richie Martin had RBI singles before Villar bounced out.
Aaron Brooks has lasted 2 2/3 innings in back-to-back starts, but his pitch count grew from 32 to 56 and he allowed his first Orioles run on Adam Eaton’s sacrifice fly in the third.
The inning included two singles, a hit batter, a walk and three stolen bases. Martin made a diving stop to prevent a run from scoring and holding Anthony Rendon to an infield single, and Gabriel Ynoa stranded three runners.
Ynoa allowed only one run and two hits with no walks in 4 1/3 innings to earn his first win since Sept. 21, 2017. A short spurt of damage and it was done.
Mancini was 0-for-24 before his dribbler over first base last night that went for a double, but one hit doesn’t bust a slump.
Perhaps his game-tying home run in the fourth inning tonight did the trick.
Mancini drove Fedde’s 91.5 mph four-seamer 438 feet to right-center field per Statcast for his first home run since June 23. But the Nationals countered with two-out back-to-back doubles by Trea Turner and Eaton in the fifth.
Martin’s single halted an 0-for-24 skid. Dwight Smith Jr. stayed on the bench, other than catching both ceremonial first pitches, while hitless in his last 30 at-bats. Keon Broxton joined him until serving as a defensive replacement in the ninth, his last appearance coming in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader while stuck on one hit this month and owning three in his last 30 at-bats.
Davis was hitless in 14 straight at-bats, striking out six times, but he lined a single into left field in the fifth inning and delivered the go-ahead run in the seventh. He has three multi-hit games this month.
He’s hardly the worst of the current offenders, but he’s always the one garnering the most attention for the obvious reasons.
“With Chris, for me is that he’s had some moments where he’s swung the bat pretty well,” Hyde said earlier today. “He’s gone through periods of struggle and gone through periods of swinging the bat well. I just feel like he’s having a tough time being consistent with it. The few positive weeks he’s had on occasion gives you some hope that he can keep it rolling, but it’s just the consistency part with C.D. for me.
“What I love about C.D. is you never know. He’s the same guy every day. He’s been unbelievable in the clubhouse. We have a really good relationship. Everybody’s pulling for him. He cares. So it’s just one of those things for me where he’s having a hard time being consistent and being on time with fastballs on a nightly basis and just taking good at-bats.
“There’s been moments this year where he has and there’s been moments where he’s struggled, so we’re just going to continue to help him and work with him. And it’s up to him to find a way.”
The strikes taken on pitches down the middle test the patience of people who watch him on a nightly basis. Theories are tossed around.
His eyesight is fine. It’s tested in spring training. That one can be dismissed.
Davis struck out in the eight, but it was swinging.
“I don’t know if he’s locked up, I don’t know if he’s guessing,” Hyde said.
“I think before when he was hitting 50-plus (home runs) and a real threat in the league people were careful pitching to him and he was hitting mistakes. Guys were being more careful on the edges and I think sometimes it surprises him where guys are going right after him and he’s got to make that adjustment.”
Wilkerson led off the third inning with a single and was thrown out trying to steal. Ruiz singled and was back-picked after Martin showed bunt.
The Orioles sent eight batters to the plate in the seventh. It wasn’t an offensive explosion, but a three-run inning must have felt the same.
What happened in the eighth qualified. Left behind was the debris from shattered slumps.
Note: Shortstop Cadyn Grenier, the 37th overall pick in 2018, has moved up from low Single-A Delmarva to Single-A Frederick. Grenier was batting .253/.360/.399 with 18 doubles, three triples, seven home runs and 39 RBIs in 82 games.
Update: The Orioles optioned reliever Tayler Scott to Triple-A Norfolk following the game. A corresponding move is coming Thursday or Friday.
Hyde on slump ending: “That was a nice offensive performance there in the second half of that game. Obviously, got a ton of big hits. Good to see Trey go deep a couple times and really swing the bat well. Really happy with how we swung the bat the last half of the game.
“But for me, the pitching, we pitched tonight. Aaron Brooks, Gabby Ynoa was fantastic and then (Paul) Fry and Givens after that. Just a really nice job on the mound and a nice job of tack-on runs for our guys.”
Hyde on Ynoa: “I know he’s had a couple of really nice games, but for me this was his best game just from a stuff standpoint. I really liked the fastball, changeup, slider. This is not an easy lineup to pitch to. It’s a playoff-caliber lineup and he kept them off balance.
“For me, one of the biggest at-bats of the game was when Aaron couldn’t get through the third and I brought Gabby in to face Soto, which wasn’t the matchup that I had in mind, but I just couldn’t let Aaron go any further. With the bases loaded and two outs and to be able to get him out right there to keep it at 1-0, that was a huge, huge at-bat even though it was early in the game.
“I think that was a momentum builder for him. You come in to face a guy like that with the bases loaded, it’s the third inning, it’s still a pivotal point in the game. He just did a great job following that. He pitched in tonight, which was great. All our guys.”
Hyde on difference in Givens: “Aggressiveness in the strike zone. Getting ahead of hitters. The hit he gave up to (Matt) Adams, he fell behind 2-0. So Adams sees four or five pitches and then he gets a base hit. I just like when Mike gets guys out early in the count and attacks guys early in the count with his stuff.
“He is not a guy you want to face and be down in the count early. He’s a guy you want to be able to see pitches. And all good pitchers, the longer you can stay in the at-bat, the better chance you’ll have. So when Mike gets guys out early in the count and attacks guys and gets ahead, that’s why he’s having success as of late.”
Mancini on two home runs: “Felt good out there. I knew after the first at-bat I just could tell I felt a little more like myself. I hit it into the shift right at Dozier there. Kind of let me take a deep breath and realize that my timing was kind of back and I was feeling good out there. So definitely felt more like myself tonight.”
Mancini on double over first base last night really working: “It usually takes a hit like that, especially whenever you have a few line outs throughout the slump and things like that. So it usually takes a blooper, a cheap hit, to get you feeling good and feeling like at least one of them might have evened out. And then you just kind of relax that you got a hit and go back to trying to be yourself again.”
Mancini on second home run: “Off the bat, I didn’t think it was going out and then it just kind of kept going up and then I thought I had a chance. I’m glad he didn’t catch it. He was close. My heart kind of stopped whenever they reviewed it, too, but luckily it counted. But I think that was one of the higher ones I’ve hit.”
Mancini on pitching staff: “They did such a good job - Brooksie, Ynoa, Fry and Givens. Every single one of them did a great job tonight, so it was fun to play behind every single one of them. They pounded the strike zone and did a good job against a really good lineup over there.”
Ynoa (via translator Ramón Alarcón) on whether this was his best outing: “I think so. I was feeling really well. I was feeling aggressive. I do believe it was the best outing so far this year.”
Ynoa on long relief role: “I feel comfortable wherever they put me. The most important thing is to do the job, whatever role they designate for you, whether it’s a starter or a reliever.
“I do feel comfortable because when they tell me I’m ready for today, I’m going to go two, three innings.”