Some of the clubhouse support for Mancini in Home Run Derby

He will face Pete Alonso of the New York Mets, the Home Run Derby champion in 2019, and Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, among others. But at least one Orioles teammate of Trey Mancini - and no doubt there are many more - believes Mancini can walk away the Home Run Derby winner on Monday night in Denver.

“I’ve seen Trey come out here, not trying to hit home runs, just trying to hit the ball hard through the middle of the field and hit a homer every swing for three straight (batting practice) rounds. So I think he has just a good chance to win the derby as anybody,” outfielder Austin Hays said in an on-field interview before Tuesday’s game.

Hays said it can tug at the heart to see how everyone throughout the sport of baseball welcomed Mancini back this year after he beat Stage 3 colon cancer.

Mancini-Swings-Black-Sidebar.jpg“Everywhere he goes for the first time, either the player or fans haven’t had the opportunity to just show the heartfelt feelings they have for him and the heartfelt pride they have for him being able to come back to this game after not playing for a whole year,” Hays said. “It’s great when he gets a hit and the first baseman from the other team gives him a hug. It just goes to show that baseball is really small compared to some other things in life. It can be taken away at any second.”

Hays added that Mancini hasn’t changed much - the player or person he knew before his cancer diagnosis in March 2020.

“I know that he’s always been hard on himself,” said Hays. “It doesn’t matter how much money he gets or how many records he breaks. Quickest guy to 100 homers or whatever it is. He’s the same guy that he was in the minor leagues. He feels he needs to prove he belongs here every single day, even though he’s already proven that and everyone knows he belongs here. Us younger guys, we look up to him and we want to get to a place in our careers where he is at right now. I think he’s pushing even harder this year to show he can still do the same things even coming off a year that is harder than anyone had to deal with anything.

“We’ve had a couple of team meetings that needed to be called, team morale or whatever you want to call it. How guys were handling themselves with all the losses we’ve had. Trey’s headed up both those meetings. He told us don’t let anything strip you of your character, the way you play the game, the way you carry yourself. Everything that he says in the locker room carries a lot of weight and meaning, especially for the guys that are younger.”

Urías still hitting: After his first 49 plate appearances in the majors this year, Ramón Urías was batting .159 and he struck out in 16 of his 44 at-bats. But in his big league at-bats since early May, his average has been on a steady climb up. He was batting sixth last night and went 2-for-4 against Toronto. It’s his third straight two-hit game and he is 6-for-10 in that stretch. Urías is now hitting .291 with an OPS of .825.

What is going on here?

“Well, he went down to Triple-A and I thought they did some really nice things there with getting the barrel out in front a little more on fastballs,” manager Brandon Hyde said before Tuesday’s game. “When he was here before, he was really (hitting) a lot of middle, the other way, which was great, but sometimes they would ride fastballs up, ride fastballs in on him. Had a tough time kind of getting there. I know that was a point of emphasis when he went down. He made some adjustments and you see him getting the barrel out, driving some balls to the left side and taking some really good at-bats right now.”

In his last 14 O’s games, Urías is batting .429 (18-for-42) with three doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs.

O’s win series opener: The Orioles hit three homers to beat Toronto 7-5 last night and win the series opener and Game 1 of a six-game homestand leading into the All-Star break.

Pedro Severino’s two-run shot in the fourth gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish. Severino had hit just one homer in his previous 19 games. Cedric Mullins’ two-run shot in the fifth was his team-leading 16th homer and traveled 402 feet. Anthony Santander’s 431-foot blast in the fifth landed on Eutaw Street and provided the O’s a 7-1 lead. It was the 50th all-time O’s homer on Eutaw Street and fourth by Santander.

Right-hander Spenser Watkins got the benefit of that offense to record his first major league win in his second appearance and first start. Against one of the best offenses in baseball, he allowed three hits and one run over five innings. The Orioles had gone eight straight games without a five-inning start until Watkins’ outing last night.

The O’s offense has now produced 47 runs and 13 homers over the last seven games and 59 runs in the last 10 games.

On the farm: High Single-A Aberdeen’s Gunnar Henderson hit his first homer with the IronBirds last night as his club lost 6-5 at Greenville. Henderson entered the game 1-for-31, but with 12 walks to date with Aberdeen. Then he went 3-for-4, including a two-run homer. That raised his average from .032 to .114.

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