An uncomfortable streak for Trey Mancini finally ended tonight.
A strange, inexplicable, coincidental streak that left him shaking his head and searching for the humor in it. Like the bashing on Twitter about how he isn’t clutch.
A guy who’s the overwhelming favorite to be voted Most Valuable Oriole had made the final out in three consecutive games.
He’s been swinging a red-hot bat, going 6-for-14 with two doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs in those games, but he also was stuck with the dubious distinction.
Mancini had four more hits tonight in his first four plate appearances to equal his career high and also collected two RBIs.
Gabriel Ynoa matched his season high with 6 1/3 innings, but is stuck on one win since 2017. The bullpen came up way short again and the Blue Jays completed the sweep with an 8-4 win before an announced crowd of 10,148 at Camden Yards.
Dillon Tate issued a bases-loaded walk to Derek Fisher to break a tie in the seventh after Tanner Scott walked both batters he faced. The run was charged to Ynoa, who still got credited with a quality start as the Orioles fell behind 3-2.
Both of Scott’s runners scored on Cavan Biggio’s two-out single off Tate. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. followed with an RBI single, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. tacked on a two-run double as the Blue Jays sent 10 batters to the plate and the Orioles were headed toward their fourth loss in a row and a 49-104 record.
“It’s just young guys that are really inconsistent,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Our lack of command out of the ‘pen this year has been a struggle, and some nights we have it and some nights we don’t. You’re never really sure that you’re going to get.”
Mancini singled in the first inning and had a run-scoring double in the third to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. He singled again in the fifth to move Hanser Alberto to third base, and Anthony Santander reached on a fielder’s choice grounder to tie the game.
Up again with two outs in the seventh, Mancini roped an RBI double to right field to reduce the lead to 8-3. He also had four hits on July 28, 2018 against the Rays.
He batted with two outs in the ninth tonight and was hit by a pitch in his left leg.
Santander flied out. Mancini was in some pain but off the hook.
The pitch was thrown by childhood friend Justin Shafer. They grew up 10 minutes apart and remain close.
“It’s all right,” said Mancini, who had the thigh wrapped. “That one got away from Shaf a little bit. He’s been playing on the same team as me since we were about seven or eight years old, so he’s a competitor and he was just trying to run a fastball inside to me there and it just got away from him a little bit. Yeah, it hurt pretty good. He got a pretty good blow to my leg there.
“We played on the same travel team since we were 8 years old. ... I’ve been friends with him since we were 5 or 6 years old. Played tennis together growing up, baseball, so we were always on the same team and then went to rival high schools. It’s pretty cool to play against him at this level.”
Asked what he said to Shafer, Mancini replied, “I said, ‘I was taking a strike right there and I know you tried to run a fastball in.’ I was just joking around with him. Kind of had fun with it there.”
The fun comes with Mancini at the plate, where he began the night slashing .328/.365/.612 this month. He’s now 26-for-71 for a .366 average.
Overall, Mancini has registered a .286 average and .891 OPS.
“I feel good up there and trying to stay committed to my plan overall,” he said, “I think we all want to finish strong and put good at-bats together, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”
“Trey had a spectacular night, driving the ball the other way,” Hyde said. “Just really, really good at-bats. I love when he hits the ball in the air, I love when he uses the right-center field gap. He’s on a great run now, swinging the bat fantastic.”
The season is winding down with Mancini leading the club with 36 doubles and 34 home runs. One more homer and he’s achieved the seventh 35/35 season in Orioles history.
Only Mancini, the Astros’ Alex Bregman and the Nationals’ Anthony Rendon have totaled at least 35 doubles, 34 home runs and 100 runs scored this season. Two of them are contending for the Most Valuable Player Award in their respective leagues.
One of them couldn’t extend the game the last three nights.
Mancini struck out on three pitches from the Tigers’ Joe Jiménez with the bases loaded in Monday’s 5-2 loss at Comerica Park. He struck out the following night against the Blue Jays’ Ken Giles in an 8-5 loss that included Jonathan Villar’s home run earlier in the inning.
Villar failed to bring home the tying run in the ninth inning last night with the Blue Jays leading 11-10 and Mancini grounded out with the bases loaded.
The bust in the clutch label is a silly overreaction, of course. He’s had plenty of big hits this season. A recent example is the three-run homer in the eighth inning Saturday at Comerica Park that gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead.
Can’t pin the blame on him for an 8-4 12-inning loss.
The lead provided by Mancini tonight was gone two batters into the fourth. Biggio and Gurriel hit back-to-back home runs after Bo Bichette grounded out.
Guerrero almost made it three in a row, but center fielder Austin Hays produced a spectacular leaping catch with his back pressed against the fence to bring the ball back into play.
“That’s got to be one of the best catches of the year, period. What a great play,” Hyde said. “I like the edge the guy plays with. Swung the bat well. Really good at-bats, the walks were great at-bats. He had a great game.”
“He hit it really good off the bat, so try to take a deep angle,” Hays said. “Once I got closer to the wall, I realized there was a chance that I was going to jump for it. I just tried to time it up to hit my back against the ball when I was reaching over for the ball.
“It’s kind of the catch you dream about playing in the backyard, playing Wiffle Ball and all that, so that was pretty cool. That might be the first time since I was in high school that I robbed a home run. Definitely a cool experience.”
Hays stood on the track, let out a yell and pounded his chest three times. With such force that he probably left a bruise. He also raised his cap to Guerrero, returning the gesture.
“I love that stuff,” Hyde said. “I love guys showing emotion. I love how it fired him up and it fires the dugout up. Just a big-time play.”
“It’s just raw emotion,” Hays said. “You don’t get to do something like that every day. It’s few and far between when a play like that happens. That was just my excitement coming out.
“I saw some guys tipping their caps, so I tipped my cap back. I saw Vlad Jr. kind of take his helmet off, kind of give me recognition for making the catch, just a lot of excitement from all the guys reaching up and making that.”
Said Ynoa, via translator Ramón Alarcón: “Spectacular play. It was going to be three home runs in a row, so he saved me big time there. I wanted to run to center field, hug him, jumping up and down because it was an amazing play.”
Flashbacks to the Mike Trout robbery at Camden Yards. A thing of beauty.
“I think I’ve seen the highlights of it, him jumping up there,” Hays said, “so it’s cool that it was in the same spot.”
“Unbelievable,” Mancini said. “He comes out and he plays with fire. I hate this saying, but 110 percent. He just plays so hard in the right way, so that was awesome to see, just the raw emotion after the catch. I’m really happy he’s back up here and healthy and showing everybody what he can do because he’s a really good ballplayer.
“It was just an incredible play and I’m glad I got a front row seat for it.”
Hays homered off Jordan Romano with two outs in the eighth inning, his first since returning to the majors.
Ynoa had thrown 29 pitches entering the fourth, only six the previous inning, but the two home runs raised the staff’s total to 291. He retired the side in order in the fifth and escaped a jam in the sixth after allowing a leadoff single to Fisher and drilling Bichette on the batting helmet.
A one-out double by Randal Grichuk in the seventh brought Hyde out of the dugout. Scott was assigned two left-handed batters and walked them to fill the bases. Tate replaced him with Fisher, also a lefty, coming up and another walk gave Toronto the lead.
The rest of the inning also went poorly.
Scott has walked 19 batters in 23 innings this season and his ERA rose to 5.48.
Mancini thought he scored in the third after his double, a strikeout/wild pitch from reliever Anthony Kay and Bichette’s throw to first on Renato Núñez’s grounder that pulled Rowdy Tellez off the bag. Núñez was ruled safe, then out, which also brought Hyde out of the dugout.
Biggio bobbled a potential double play ball from Santander in the fifth that allowed the tying run to score.
A bullpen that had been clutch is unraveling again and the Orioles were swept for the 13th time.
“It was really tough,” Mancini said, “but you know, things like that happen and it’s a learning experience for our guys. We have had a lot of games kind of slip away from us and hopefully after it keeps happening we can find ways to limit the damage in those innings. Like I said we’ve got a lot of guys just learning some valuable lessons here in September.”
“They’re pretty left-handed,” Hyde said. “Going to try him out there against possibly left-handers.”
You Hays to see it. pic.twitter.com/kKBzbNuzZH— Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) September 20, 2019