As Ryan Mountcastle tries to get his bat going consistently, a few recent games and last night’s three-hit effort are steps forward for the O’s 24-year-old outfielder/first baseman/designated hitter.
As his struggles went on in the season’s first few weeks, Mountcastle said he tried to draw on last year as a reminder of what he could do. He hit .333/.386/.492/.878. His OPS plus of 139 in 2020 was 39 percent above league average. His current mark there is 64, 36 percent below the league.
“I mean, last year was a success, in my eyes,” he said via Zoom this afternoon. “Obviously, the start of this year hasn’t gone the way I want, but I know I can play in this league. Just staying confident throughout all these games is a key for success, for sure.
“Usually, it’s that second year when they figure you out, your weaknesses and stuff. And they try to exploit them and, you know, it’s all about change. I have to change the way I think, maybe the way I swing sometimes, trying to adapt to the situation and try to get better from it.”
In the 6-2 loss to Boston last night, Mountcastle flared a single to center in the second, homered to right-center in the sixth and singled in the eighth as part of a 3-for-4 game that raised his average from .202 to .221.
Of his seven career homers, Friday’s was the first to come on a full count. And, at 106.4 mph, it was the Orioles’ 10th-hardest-hit home run of the season. It was his second homer of the year - his first was April 8 - and he went 23 games between longballs.
But after producing just two multi-hit games over his first 24 games and batting .184 with a .493 OPS, Mountcastle enjoyed a three-hit night on Friday that was his third multi-hit game in his last seven games. In that span, he is 9-for-26, batting .346 with an OPS of .857.
Mountcastle was asked which of his teammates he leaned on most during his rough start.
“I talk to a lot of the guys about hitting,” he said. “I talk to Don (Long) our hitting coach. I talked to Trey (Mancini), Austin Hays, Cedric (Mullins), DJ (Stewart) and some of these guys. You know, pick their brains. But at the end of the day I have to go out there and perform.”
Mountcastle has played in the majors and minors with Mullins, who is currently batting .317/.379/.524/.902 with 11 doubles, five homers and 11 RBIs atop the Baltimore batting order.
“This year he’s got a little bit more swagger to him,” Mountcastle said. “He’s got a bit more confidence. He came into camp with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, I think. And he’s played, you know, he’s been our best hitter by far.”
And another player Mountcastle has played behind will make his first major league start tonight when lefty Zac Lowther faces Boston at Oriole Park.
“I’m real excited for him,” Mountcastle said of Lowther. “He’s a really good player, really good pitcher. And really good teammate too. Hopefully he goes out there and does his thing. I have all the confidence in the world in him.”
Mountcastle mashin’. pic.twitter.com/GtxPayGtqu-- Baltimore Orioles 😷 (@Orioles) May 8, 2021