TORONTO -- Numerous times on Thursday afternoon, a Blue Jays batter would arrive at first base following a single or a walk and jokingly touch the jersey of Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle.
They all wanted some of Mountcastle’s success at the plate to rub off on them.
Baltimore’s first baseman has tormented Toronto for years, and he’s practically made Rogers Centre a second home over his four big league seasons. But Mountcastle’s performance over this week’s four games at the ballpark was stellar, even by his standards.
By going 4-for-4 in Baltimore’s 6-1 series-clinching win on Thursday, Mountcastle completed the set with an .846 average, going 11-for-13 and reaching base in 14 of his 18 plate appearances. It’s the highest batting average for any player in Orioles history over a four-game series (minimum 10 plate appearances) and the second highest in a series of at least three games -- Hall of Famer Harold Baines (.889) ranks first, as he went 8-for-9 vs. the Royals from April 30-May 2, 1993.
“Maybe it’s something here in Toronto that [Mountcastle] likes, whether it’s Tim Hortons, poutine or the backdrop here. Who knows?” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. “He had a really good series, and he’s a good player.”
The 26-year-old Mountcastle is a career .333 hitter at Rogers Centre (27-for-81) with seven doubles, six homers, 21 RBIs and a 1.046 OPS.
“They’re not going to let him back in here,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I’m going to put a massive Rogers Centre banner in his locker to remind him of what it feels like when he hits here. There’s some intent in that swing, and if he can swing the bat somewhat like this the rest of the way, we’re in good shape.”
Earlier in the summer, Mountcastle wasn’t swinging the bat anything like this. But he was also dealing with vertigo, which inhibited his performance and eventually caused him to go on the injured list from June 13-July 9.
Since returning, Mountcastle is 23-for-50 (.460) with seven doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs over 18 games.
“It’s easier when you’re just seeing one baseball instead of three at the plate,” Mountcastle said. “I feel a lot better and healthy, and it’s a blessing.”
It’s simple for Mountcastle to explain why he can hit better when he doesn’t have vertigo. However, he can’t break down why his offensive game seemingly reaches another level in Canada.
“Maybe it just lines up with when I’m hitting well or whatnot, I don’t know,” Mountcastle said. “But they’ve got a good staff over there, and I just laid off some good pitches and got the good ones to hit.”
Whatever the reasoning, the Orioles aren’t going to question it -- but they’ll grin about it.
“Dude, he was unconscious this series. It was fun to watch,” catcher Adley Rutschman said. “I feel like he does that every time he goes to Toronto, though. So I think it's just a running joke now. Awesome to see him do his thing.”