BALTIMORE -- These tend to come with Ryan Mountcastle. He can hit the cover off the ball for a prolonged stretch, morphing himself into one of the hottest hitters in the league with power to all fields -- especially power out of the field. But those stretches can get paired up with some cool spurts, including elevated strikeout numbers and few walks.
Maybe all he needed was to face who he faced on Monday night.
Mountcastle led a mixed-up Orioles lineup with a loud, consistent and long-standing performance in the series-opening 7-4 win over the Blue Jays at Camden Yards. His third-inning homer was a table-setter for an insurance-padding single in the eighth, all part of a four-homer night for the O’s. Both reaffirmed one key truism in Mountcastle’s young career.
He loves playing Toronto, and he is historically great against the club. He doesn't know why, and neither do his teammates.
“I don't know. He's not missing mistakes, that's for sure,” outfielder Austin Hays, who homered in his first game back from a left oblique ailment, said with a smile. “He looked really good tonight. I don't know what it is. He gets after them.”
Mountcastle owns a 1.131 career OPS against the Blue Jays across 30 games and 129 plate appearances, now with 13 homers and 25 RBIs against them. This season alone -- after going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk Monday -- he’s hitting 10-for-21 (.476) with four homers, two doubles and nine RBIs in five games.
Among all-time Toronto killers, no one owns a higher OPS (minimum 125 plate appearances) than Mountcastle, ranking the Baltimore slugger above Alex Bregman, Mike Trout, Michael Brantley and even fellow divisional foe Aaron Judge.
Among all-time Orioles, only Ken Singleton owns a higher OPS against a single opponent, a 1.142 mark he compiled in 73 games against the Mariners.
And this night came against the backdrop of Mountcastle slashing just .198/.252/.288 (.540 OPS) in 29 games since the start of July. His last homer was more than a month ago, on July 3 in Minnesota.
“Honestly, he's a young player going through young player struggles a little bit,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. “... He wants to contribute. I'm sure it feels good for him to really contribute offensively for us tonight.”
If there’s a source of comfort, it’s that they’ve continued to rattle off wins without their lineup clicking like they believe it can. Hyde attempted some tinkering on Monday, shifting Cedric Mullins out of the leadoff spot in a game he started for the first time since 2020 to go right-heavy atop the order; Ryan McKenna hit leadoff for the first time this season.
Mountcastle, Hays and Ramón Urías all entered with skids of their own proportions. Each -- joined in homering by Anthony Santander -- hope they can ignite the Orioles’ offense for the stretch run.
“You can always do a little bit more on offense. This team has a bit of everything,” Hays said. “We have the ability to hit four homers, we have the ability to steal four bases in a game. It's a very potent lineup from top to bottom, as far as power and speed goes. Guys are able to get on base more than one or two ways. This lineup can hurt you in a lot of ways.”
Especially when the opponents come from Toronto. Then it doesn’t matter which batting order spot Mountcastle inhabits.
“Great to see Mountcastle, who's been grinding lately,” Hyde said. “It's been a tough couple of weeks, and to see him get on one and hit it the way he did, and then the big tack-on base hit there, too. That's definitely a positive for us is to get Mounty going.”