Can Trey Mancini take his offense to an even higher level?

TORONTO - The Orioles’ Trey Mancini is racking up some honors: Most Valuable Oriole, and now he’s the latest American League Player of the Week after a week when he hit .462 (12-for-26) in six games with four runs, four doubles, two home runs, 10 RBIs and 22 total bases.

Mancini has had a huge year for the Orioles and is on his way to recording career highs in homers (34), doubles (36), runs (101), RBIs (93), walks (57), slugging (.532) and OPS (.889).

Beginning with last night’s game, Mancini was the only player in the American League and one of just three in the majors with 34 or more homers and 36 or more doubles. If he hits one more homer he’ll produce the seventh 35-35 season in O’s history.

Despite the numbers, manager Brandon Hyde thinks Mancini can find another gear with his offense and it can get even better. He’s been talking with him recently about how to do just that.

Mancini-Homers-Gray-sidebar.jpg“It’s something we’ve talked about the last month or two with him,” said Hyde. “Good things happen when he hits the ball in the air. I just think it’s an approach thing more than anything. Over the course of the season with Trey, the amount of pitches he’s seen and the at-bats and getting experience, you are starting to see a little more plate discipline. You are not seeing him chase the sinker down and in or the ball running in on his hands. Doing a better job these last few weeks laying off the slider down and away.

“He’s put a lot of really good swings on balls the past week with results as he really got into hitter’s counts. As you continue to grow as a hitter and start to understand how to take an at-bat and pitches that you can drive and can’t drive, I think you’ll see him hit the ball in the air a lot more with authority.

“But going forward into spring training, this is guy that’s a 40-plus home run guy, especially in our ballpark, without problems. If he is just able to lay off the pitchers’ pitches, especially early in the count. That is what he did this past week.”

Less ground balls and more pitches Mancini can drive will take his game to another level Hyde feels.

“Especially early (in the year) for me the two-seamer or the left-handed cutter, he would swing at and hit ground balls to short and third. Now you are starting to see him elevate the baseball more and lay off those pitches he can’t really drive and wait for something he can stay behind and hit the ball in the air.”

Hyde sees Mancini’s confidence growing at-bat.

“That is the biggest part of it,” he said. “Confidence to be able to go deep in the count and not having to chase early because you are afraid of striking out. Trey’s confidence is growing at-bat to at-bat.

“That is why I like Austin (Hays). I think Austin plays with an edge, he plays confidently. Plays defense very confidently and you’re seeing that at the plate also. The majority of really good players are very confident with a little bit of insecurity mixed in there also.”

About last night and this morning: In a game that ended after midnight this morning, Toronto beat the Orioles 11-10 in 15 innings in a contest that took five hours and 21 minutes. Baltimore trailed 5-0 and 6-3, led 7-6, were tied 7-7 and then led 9-7 and got tied 9-9 in the ninth. Chris Davis hit a tiebreaking homer in the 12th but Toronto scored in the last of the 12th to tie it up again 10-10. Anthony Alford’s walk-off homer off Ryan Eades finally ended it.

The Orioles (51-106) are 2-8 in extra innings. Two of their past four losses to Toronto have come by 11-10 scores. Each team used 10 pitchers and the Orioles lost despite a remarkable night from Hays.

He went 3-for-5 through the first eight innings with two homers and five RBIs. He has hit four homers his past five games. He made several more outstanding plays on defense. He was all over the field.

According to STATS, Hays became the first major league rookie to have five or more RBIs, a stolen base and an outfield assist in the same game since RBIs became an official stat in 1920.

“Just trying to continue to have good at-bats, competitive at-bats. Just play as hard as I can on defense and just try to take advantage of any opportunity I get,” Hays said in the quiet of the Baltimore postgame clubhouse.

The Orioles seem to be able to take leads, they just can’t hold them very often lately. Now they have to try and bounce back from a brutal loss.

“We just need to continue (our) positivity,” said Hays. “It’s tough that we suffered the loss tonight and couldn’t pull it out. But it’s a new day tomorrow and we have to show up, be positive, have each other’s backs and do as much as we can to win that game.”

The game featured a season-high tying five homers for the Orioles including their fifth time going back-to-back when Hays and Jonathan Villar did that in the fifth inning. The game featured 21 runs, 29 hits, 10 homers and 20 pitches used - 10 for each club.

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