The status of other players on the roster didn’t really matter today to Orioles manager Brandon Hyde as he wrote out his final home lineup for 2019.
“They both have done so many good things in their career,” Hyde said. “Had some really good years here and done some spectacular things with playoff-type clubs. I just hope (fans) show their appreciation for, these guys are two incredible workers, they care about this city, they care about this team, and they’re just real class guys and pros.
“So I hope the fans recognize that and seems like they do. They still have a lot of fans who are behind them and I hope they show that today.”
There were no standing ovations for Trumbo, who likely has played his final game with the Orioles. The response for Davis, who’s expected back, resembled the others until his at-bat in the seventh inning.
Until he launched a sinker from Mariners starter Marco Gonzales into the right field seats to break a 1-1 tie.
It was business as usual until that moment, in a game the Orioles won 2-1 before an announced crowd of 17,540 that brought the season attendance to 1,307,807.
The Orioles averaged 16,348 fans in 80 home dates.
Today’s win left the Orioles 51-105 overall and 25-56 at home.
Trumbo was 1-for-2 with a walk today. Davis had the same line, except for his 11th home run of the season, making him 4-for-18 with nine strikeouts this month. Teammates Jonathan Villar and DJ Stewart celebrated Davis’ homer by dumping ice water on him during his postgame interview.
“That was the first time I’ve verbally reacted on the basepaths like that at least since junior college,” Davis said.
What exactly did he shout?
“”I can’t say that,” he replied, smiling. “It was an exciting yell, I guess I should say.”
This is where Davis pauses to collect himself.
“I immediately thought back to my last game here in 2015 when I didn’t know if it was going to be my last game as an Oriole,” he continued. “We had several guys on the team who were going to be free agents ... that had been here several years and I hit a homer earlier in the game and in my last at-bat I homered. And I remember right before I crossed home plate looking up into the stands thinking, ‘Is this the last time I’m going to hear this.’ Today was kind of a similar thing. But I know it’s not the last time I’m going to hear it.
“It’s something that was long overdue and I’ve said it over and over again: I appreciate all of our fans, the people who have supported me day in and day out. And it was cool to actually give them something to cheer for.”
Davis wasn’t in a rush to cross the plate, appearing to slow his trot.
“Probably,” he said. “I mean, I wanted to soak it in. There have been a lot of really tough nights for me here, walking back to the dugout at-bat after at-bat. Just feeling like I let my teammates down, let the coaching staff down, let the fans down.
“I’ve put in a lot of work, especially later this season, than I have in the past and it’s nice to see it start coming together. I felt good for the last few days. I obviously haven’t been playing, but I felt like I’ve had some good at-bats. It was just good to come through.”
Trey Mancini stayed on the bench with a bruised left leg, but his absence didn’t influence the rest of Hyde’s lineup.
“I was playing both of those guys anyway,” he said. “I was going to figure it out.”
Taking a seat in the postgame interview room, Hyde smiled and said, “That’s how I drew it up.”
“No, that was a huge hit for us, huge hit for him personally,” Hyde said. “I saw a little bit of his postgame interview and it meant a lot to him. It definitely was a hit when we needed it, home run when we needed it. Has to feel good for him to be battling all the stuff that he’s been battling this past period of time. And to come through with a huge hit to give us the win 2-1 is awesome.”
Trumbo is a pending free agent who will consider retirement, a decision that he isn’t in a rush to cement. Davis has three years left on the $161 million deal he signed prior to the 2016 season.
“That’s a question for Mike (Elias),” Hyde said, “but Chris is under contract and I expect him to be back next year. Nothing changes from that end.”
Trumbo came off the 60-day injured list in September, one year after a complicated surgical procedure on his right knee to repair the cartilage. His future is up in the air.
“He hasn’t told me that this is it. He hasn’t told me that he doesn’t think he can do this anymore,” Hyde said.
“I think this, and I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think this September was to, one, I feel like he put so much work into coming back that he really wanted to play and be a part of our team. I think he really likes our team. He put a ton of really hard work in to be able to play the last month of the year, so that’s why I wanted him to play, because I saw what he was going through. But I also think he was seeing if this was going to work out, if he felt good enough to play next year. But he has not indicated to me that he’s retiring or he’s done playing.”
That’s because Trumbo doesn’t know. He can’t say with any certainly how his knee’s going to feel, can’t say how he’s going to be received by other teams on the free agent market.
“It probably makes the most sense (to wait),” he said. “It’s kind of premature to try to speculate on what may or may not happen, but either way I’ve kind of done everything that one could hope to do, I think, other than win it all. I think I haven’t missed out on any experiences that a ballplayer would want to. So if this is it I’m quite happy with that, and if there’s another opportunity that would be great, as well.”
Trumbo, 33, was nudged a little more toward a reflective mood this morning by a visitor at his locker.
“Probably will after the fact,” he said. “I think it’s easier if I can just focus on the game first and foremost, but I am aware of the situation that we’re in, but I’m also excited that I can go out there and hopefully help the cause today.”
The last four of Trumbo’s eight seasons have been spent in Baltimore, where he won his first Silver Slugger Award in 2016 after leading the majors with 47 home runs and driving in 108 runs.
“It’s kind of a lot,” he said, fumbling to find the right words to convey his feelings. “I’ll take some unbelievable memories from my time here. I seem to read it more than anything is you’re going to miss the guys and the hangs and the baseball talk. The on-field stuff maybe not as much.
“I know 2016 will probably stand out to me as my personal best year, the best team-wise that I’ve been on, as well, the playoff team. And the last couple years have been more of a transition and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to help a few people, at least, in various ways and will try to continue doing that in the next week.”
The rebuilding process is going to move along without Trumbo. He’ll admire its direction and what people like Hyde, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias and the staff are trying to do.
“I think you have to,” he said. “I don’t think I have a complete picture of what the entire process looks like. I do know we’ve seen some changes here, but from what I hear the majority are happening down below and that will continue.
“I think from a fan’s perspective, the sooner the better as far as getting back to what it probably looked like a couple years ago. I think everyone will be extremely happy and maybe quite a bit better than that even.”
John Means is becoming a face of the rebuild. Or maybe it’s his left arm.
The rookie fell behind 1-0 only two batters into his start, with Shed Long stroking a leadoff triple and scoring on J.P. Crawford’s single. Means threw 25 pitches in the inning, which included Kyle Seager’s double.
Tim Lopes led off the second with a double and was stranded. Kyle Lewis singled in the third, Tom Murphy drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and Long doubled with two outs in the fifth. All of them stranded.
The first 1-2-3 inning for Means came in the sixth on 13 pitches that left him at 86. Another runner was stranded in the seventh before Richard Bleier replaced him.
Means scattered seven hits in seven innings, with one walk and four strikeouts, and lowered his ERA to 3.54.
“I’m really trying to prove to myself that I can finish out the year strong and try to just get my best stuff toward the end,” he said. “It’s a grind. This is the first time I’ve ever really pitched all the way through September and it is a little different, but at the same time it’s part of it.”
“After that first inning I thought he was great,” Hyde said. “A big part of that game for me was that first inning when he wiggled out of that second and third after he had already given up a run. And really settled down and his pitch count was up too after the first and he really did a great job finishing off with a huge strikeout in the seventh inning of (Domingo) Santana, who is a tough hitter, especially off left-handed pitchers. And, yeah, just John Means. He battles, grinds, he doesn’t give in, improving. Just love the makeup.”
Means posted a 2.74 ERA in 92 home innings, the lowest by a first- or second-year Orioles pitcher since Mike Mussina (2.65) in 1992.
“I don’t know. I think it’s a little different when you’re in the minor leagues at home than it is here,” Means said.
“You’re still living in a hotel room or someone else’s house. Here, you just kind of have your own little place. You have your routine at home. I never knew about a home field advantage until now. You’re given everything. You have this amazing food that Jenny cooks us every day and it’s very nice playing here.”
Bleier, the opener on Friday night, retired the side in order in the eighth and did the same in the ninth, with Hanser Alberto making a sensational diving stop up the middle to rob Murphy.
Davis stood at his locker, still drying off from the celebratory dousing. It’s a reach to believe that today’s home run will somehow carry over to spring training and the 2020 season, but no one cared. This was about the final home game of 2019 and how Davis punctuated it..
“He’s had some tough moments and so for him to have a great moment, a really nice game-winning moment, I think that’s got to make him feel good,” Hyde said. “That’s really all I care about. I want the guy to succeed. We all pull for him because he’s such a good guy and you see the work that he puts in. So just to have him have some success, get a big hit for us to win a series after a tough loss last night, also, last home game of the year, yeah I hope so. But it was just a great moment for him.”
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias stated today that Davis would be with the club at spring training, also dousing speculation that a release might be pending.
“I just always pictured myself being here,” Davis said. “I have three years left after this year. Mike and I have sat down a few times this year and kind of talked about what he expects, what I expect, what we both want to see. And I feel like we’ve got a good plan in place. I’ve already started doing a lit of things we talked about and I didn’t want to waste anytime and I’m gonna carry it right into the offseason.”
Davis wasn’t willing to delve into the details of his extra work.
“You want me to tell you all my new secrets?” he said. “A lot of it is just routine based. Getting back to some of the things I’ve done earlier in my career. It’s not anything special. We’re not trying to do anything different. It’s just being a little more consistent in my work every day. Not just coming in here and burning out, doing whatever, having a direction, having a plan and executing it.”
Maybe he won’t make it back to 2015 form, but he had a warm flashback this afternoon. The home run in the final home at-bat. The rousing ovation from the stands.
“This one, to me, probably felt a little bit better,” he said. “That was such a different time. There was so much uncertainty, so many things that were unknown. This felt good because it’s been long overdue.
“I think it was just definitely joy and I won’t say relief. Satisfaction. I was fired up, man. I’m kind of surprised I ran the bases slower because I was jacked up. I made it a point to stop a few feet before home plate and look up and walk across the plate. That was a good moment for me.”
CRUSHED IT. 💪 pic.twitter.com/hvHPKBpwKW-- Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) September 22, 2019