The King in the North: Mountcastle continues to mash in Toronto

June 5th, 2024

TORONTO -- Last August, Blue Jays manager John Schneider couldn’t quite figure out the reason why Orioles slugger torments Toronto’s pitching staff seemingly every time he steps into the batter’s box at Rogers Centre, considering coffee and food dishes as possibilities.

“Maybe it’s something here in Toronto that he likes, whether it’s Tim Hortons, poutine or the backdrop here. Who knows?” Schneider said at the time.

Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde questioned whether the Blue Jays would somehow find a way to keep Mountcastle out of Canada.

“They’re not going to let him back in here,” Hyde said then.

However, Toronto’s least favorite baseball player has returned and again made himself at home.

Mountcastle mashed a pair of homers and collected five RBIs to lift the Orioles to a 10-1 win on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre. It marked the 27-year-old’s 10th career multi-homer game -- four of which have come against the Blue Jays and two at this ballpark.

It was the third time Mountcastle has recorded a five-RBI game, all coming since the start of 2023, as he had nine vs. Oakland on April 11 and five at Kansas City on May 2 last season.

If there are any secrets to Mountcastle’s success up north, he’s not sharing them.

“They’re a good team and just grateful that I got a couple good hits today, and in the past,” Mountcastle said, “so just going to try to keep it going.”

No Toronto routine? Or a Canadian good luck charm? Anything?

“I don’t think so,” Mountcastle said with a laugh. “I don’t know, sometimes, it just happens.”

Just how dominant has Mountcastle been vs. the Blue Jays, particularly in Toronto?

• Of his 88 career home runs, 17 have come against the Blue Jays, his most vs. any team. (His next most is 10 against the Red Sox.)
• He’s hit eight homers at Rogers Centre and no more than three at any other road ballpark.
• Rogers Centre is the only road ballpark where he has multiple multi-homer games, having also hit two on June 15, 2022.
• In his previous series in Toronto from July 31-Aug. 3, 2023, he went 11-for-13 with six RBIs while reaching base in 14 of his 18 plate appearances.

“I think he loves to hit here, and I think whenever you have positive moments somewhere, it feels good to be in that spot, and so I’m sure he loves playing here,” Hyde said. “He’s had a lot of big hits here, and the last couple of years, he’s really swung the bat well, especially in this ballpark. So I’m sure he’s got a lot of confidence here.”

Mountcastle’s first homer on Tuesday gave the Orioles an early cushion. After Adley Rutschman opened the scoring with an RBI single, Mountcastle promptly followed with a three-run homer off right-hander Bowden Francis to left field.

In the fifth, Mountcastle got to Francis again, connecting on a fastball up in the zone and blasting it a Statcast-projected 443 feet to straightaway center field.

“It is kind of ironic,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. “There’s a few hitters we face who I feel like we talk about quite a bit, whether it’s this team or another team. You have to execute your pitches. If you’re throwing [stuff] in the middle of the zone and hoping for a good result, it’s probably not going to happen against Ryan Mountcastle, or against me. You have to execute.”

The Orioles (39-20) moved a season-high 19 games above .500 with a win that also featured seven innings of one-run ball from ace Corbin Burnes and the first career hit for Connor Norby. The club’s No. 6 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning.

Baltimore has also won each of its first two games this week in Toronto, improving to 3-1 against the Blue Jays this season and 13-4 in AL East matchups.

The O’s also extended their streak of divisional sets without a series loss to 20, as they’re assured of leaving Toronto with nothing worse than a four-game split.

So while Mountcastle surely enjoys hitting in Canada -- even if he (and everybody else) isn’t exactly sure if maple syrup is somehow his sort of secret sauce -- it’s the Orioles’ overall success that is most important to him.

“Great win for the team,” Mountcastle said.