Villar’s strong play in Anaheim and props for the coaches

SAN DIEGO - If the Orioles or their fans hoped Jonathan Villar would get on a hot streak for a last-minute bump-up of his trade value, they got what they sought.

When it comes to the Orioles infielder, you get a player who flashes All-Star ability at times, but it’s mixed in there with sometimes shaky baserunning and the occasional defensive miscue.

Some of the ups and downs have been seen on this current road trip. When the Orioles lost two of three at Arizona, Villar went 0-for-15 and struck out seven times.

Villar-After-Strikeout-at-Arizona-Gray-Sidebar.jpgBut as the Orioles won three of four at Anaheim, he put together four straight multi-hit games. His two-run homer in the 16th inning Thursday helped the Orioles beat the Angels 10-8. The next night he scored two runs in the first two innings as the Orioles opened an early 7-0 lead. Saturday night his homer in the sixth inning gave them a 6-5 lead.

For the series he went 10-for-18 with a double, two homers, nine runs, five stolen bases and five RBIs. He went 6-for-7 the last two games, raising his average during the series from .248 to .262.

“He just swung the bat great,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Obviously, he had a bunch of clutch hits this series, made some stuff happen on the bases, played well defensively, played really well this series.”

And showed the high end of his vast potential.

“Yeah, I think that Jonny, the games this series, he’s almost like taking over the game with his legs and his bat,” Hyde said. “He can do a lot of things offensively that help you win. He did a bunch this series.”

Villar said that, with the help of his coaches, he made some adjustments from the series in Arizona to the one in Anaheim.

“We have a computer and we can go back and see when we’re late or something like that,” he said. “The hitting coaches told me to move my hands a little bit, it felt comfortable and helped me stay back on the breaking ball. In Arizona, I felt a little bit late with my mechanics. We checked out how we can avoid being late.”

And it led to the Orioles keeping their winning ways going as they took three of four in the series.

“We’re happy for that,” said Villar. “We played well against a good team. We played hard. We’re happy for that and will continue to play hard.”

Props to the coaches: Hyde threw some praise toward his coaching staff over the weekend in Anaheim. The subject was the Orioles’ recent winning run as they’ve won seven of 11 and are 13-12 the past 25 games.

Hyde said the staff did a great job of keeping the clubhouse upbeat and positive even as losses mounted. The positivity helped lead to the wins.

“I give our staff a ton of credit,” he said. “It’s very, very easy to, when things aren’t going well and you have pitchers not performing or you’re not scoring runs or making mental mistakes - whatever it may be - and things that happened to us this year, for coaching staffs to get sour and to get quiet, to get negative at times. And be irritable.

“And I think our guys have done a great job at being the same people every day. Understanding big picture. Understanding the process we are going through right now and staying positive with our guys, and I think you’re seeing that is a big reason why our guys play the same way every day - with energy, with great effort. I like to think our coaching staff has done a great job having the players buy into that.”

Hyde said he has had to grow into his job as a first-year manager as well.

“This is one job, I think, where you can prepare all you want, and then there is nothing like doing it,” he said. “Nothing like going through it. And managing games like the last few nights. You know, it’s a lot of fun and I’ve really had a great experience this year. Think it’s been fantastic. And I’ve had to learn to deal with a ton of adversity. You know, bullpen guys struggling and a lot of transactions and lot of movement in our clubhouse. I think just learning on the job has been ... I’ve really learned a lot from that. Like a player just trying to get better every day, also.”

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