Hyde has made it clear that he’s unable to plan too far in advance with a pitching staff that can’t offer consistent performances. And the season is running out of games.
It sure worked last night, though.
“This was just something we tried. I don’t know,” Hyde said following a 5-3 win over the Mariners.
“There was an open start on this date. We could have either started Brooksie or go with a left-hander early. Knowing that they were really left-handed, a handful of days ago, we decided we were going to open up with a left-hander, whoever that was.
“If Brooksie pitched out of the ‘pen he might not pitch tonight. If he didn’t, he was going to pick up the bulk of the game. If I did pitch him, I was going to have to piece it together, an inning or two for a bunch of guys. It worked out.”
Could Hyde reconsider the idea of using a true opener next season?
Anything is possible. He’s just trying to finish out this one.
“I think it’s all depending on what our rotation looks like out of spring training,” Hyde said. “I think your ideal situation is you have seven really good starters in spring training, right? But if you don’t, then I think that’s definitely a possibility of being creative in how you utilize your pitching staff.
“An ideal world, you’ve got seven guys in camp that are trying to make five spots and you’ve got five guys that can go deep in the game for you to take pressure off your bullpen.”
There’s no arguing that Villar has put together an impressive season and set up himself as a legitimate MVO candidate. The extra-base hits and stolen bases jump out at you and he’s been alternating between middle infield positions.
The production peaked in August when he slashed .333/.424/.629 with six doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 15 RBIs and nine steals in 11 attempts.
Mancini has been a beast in September and his numbers across the board continue to amaze under the rebuild circumstances.
“That says a lot about him,” Hyde said. “We’re running inexperience up and down the lineup and so for him to get big hits for us all the time and not have protection that some teams have and not have baserunners ...
“If he was on some of these other teams, he’d have 110 RBIs with multiple more home runs because of teams having to pitch to him a little bit more, more traffic on the bases, those types of things. So, yeah, for the year he’s having in a situation like ours and not the protection around him veteran-wise, even though we’re having some guys have some nice years, it just speaks volumes about what kind of player and person he is.”
There have been a few dips, of course, but Mancini has largely brought a consistency that earns him more respect within a clubhouse that already values his attitude and leadership.
“I’m very proud of that (consistency),” he said. “I think, especially after last year, the first half in particular was just really tough. Tough year. I always knew that I was still the player that I knew I was. But I think there was some doubt from maybe a lot of people and rightfully so as to whether I was more the 2017 or 2018 version of myself. And I always knew it was more the former.
“I wanted to go out every night and play my hardest and play for the team every night. And I knew that if I did that, then on a personal level I would be happy with myself at the end of the year.”
* Villar stole his 37th base last night. Three more and he’s the first Orioles player to reach 40 since Brian Roberts in 2008.
The 37 steals are tied for the ninth-highest total in Orioles history.
* Chance Sisco handled the catching duties last night for Bleier’s first major league start, which lasted two innings and 30 pitches.
They met to go over hitters, but Sisco knew that Bleier might not see all nine of them in the Mariners lineup.
As it turned out, Bleier faced five in the first inning and four in the second.
“It’s a little bit different,” Sisco said before the game, “just because the starter, obviously you’ve got to prepare for trying to get through the order multiple times and with him, who knows? He might go out there and do it, but for Richard’s role it’s a little bit different.
“He’s probably just going to go out there and pitch his game. But you still have to prepare because we don’t know who we’re going to bring in after that. Whoever it is, definitely got to have a game plan for those guys.”
* Players still were talking about Austin Hays’ leaping catch at the center field fence Thursday night to rob the Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of a home run. Certainly one of the finest plays in 2019.
Of course, they had to talk about it if the media kept prodding them. But still ...
Outfielder DJ Stewart scored the play a 10, “especially the situation of the game when they already hit two home runs back-to-back.”
“We practice that stuff with Arnie (Beyeler) during the outfield drills and stuff, but Austin hasn’t even been here that long and hasn’t really been playing center field that long,” Stewart said.
What’s more impressive, how Hays made the catch, stuck the landing or pounded his chest?
“Stuck the landing, I would say, just because he has to deal with the wall, the ball and kind of knocking him off balance,” Stewart said.
“I don’t know if I would have pounded my chest like that. One of the trainers asked me why I don’t pound my chest when I make a catch like that. I was like, ‘It’s because of him being excited in the moment.’ It was a heck of a play.”
Stevie Wilkerson rewarded Hays for the catch and everything that followed before he threw the ball back to the infield.
“That plays up,” Wilkerson said.
Pitcher David Hess gave Hays a 9.5. There’s always that one Olympic judge.
“I said this actually last night, I think the only catch of my life that I’ve seen that’s a little better was the Jackie Bradley Jr. catch from earlier this year because he almost got completely over the wall,” Hess said.
“I think I’ve got to give it not quite a perfect 10. That’s a pretty special thing to get. But it was up there with as good a catch as I’ve ever seen.
Hess deducted a half-point for Hays’ celebration.
“The saying is you’ve got to act like you’ve been there before,” Hess said, smiling, “so that for me maybe just takes it down a notch. Just because I have to give him a hard time about it. But that was an incredibly exciting play.
“I won’t hold it against him too much.”
Maybe the clubhouse will be abuzz today over Hays’ diving catch last night in shallow center field to rob Omar Narváez in the ninth inning.
He stuck the landing with his belly.
Shameless plug alert: I’m appearing on “Wall to Wall Baseball” from noon-2 p.m. on MASN.