Did Mancini make turn? O's hot after out call at 1st

April 22nd, 2022

OAKLAND -- The Orioles have been scouring for runs, seeing hard contact fall into gloves and the fewest runs in the Majors to this juncture tallied on their ledgers. Knowing that, any and all baserunners have been vital, a spark to try and finally pick up the surging pitching staff.

That reality is partly what made the incident -- and the subsequent ejections of and O’s manager Brandon Hyde -- in the fourth inning of Thursday afternoon’s 6-4 series finale loss at Oakland Coliseum as emotionally charged as it was.

After reaching on an error, collecting himself by turning his body towards second base -- making the slightest of hop-steps in that general direction -- and walking back to the bag along the first-base line, Mancini was called out after A’s catcher Sean Murphy tagged him before he stepped on the base.

Mancini immediately took exception to the call from first-base umpire Rob Drake -- a judgment decision that he took a step towards second, Mancini and Hyde said -- and Hyde took to the field to intervene. As displeasure continued into the next half-inning, after Mancini was able to watch a replay of the incident in the dugout, he was ejected. Hyde joined him in an early dismissal after going back to the field to continue arguments with Drake.

“Never for one second did I think about going to second base,” Mancini said after his first career ejection. “I just turned around to my left and walked back to the bag. If it had even crossed my mind to go to second base, I would have made sure that I got back to the bag quickly. I was very surprised and couldn't believe it. And I want to apologize for the language I used and the way that I conveyed my message to Rob, but I still don't agree with the call.”

According to rule 5.09(b)(4) in the MLB rule book, a runner can be tagged out when:

“He is tagged, when the ball is alive, while off his base.

EXCEPTION: A batter-runner cannot be tagged out after overrunning or oversliding first base if he returns immediately to the base.”

What’s more, according to Rule 5.09(b)(11), a runner can be called out if “he fails to return at once to first base after overrunning or oversliding that base. If he attempts to run to second he is out when tagged. If, after overrunning or oversliding first base he starts toward the dugout, or toward his position, and fails to return to first base at once, he is out, on appeal, when he or the base is tagged.”

“The umpire says that he had an intent to go to second base, and I just didn't see any intent by Trey,” Hyde said. “I thought he just squared up and went back to first base, and Trey thought he did the same thing. They told us to look at it, we did, and our view was there was no intent there.”

The Orioles have some recent history to draw from. Thursday was eerily similar to when Brewers star Christian Yelich appeared to turn his shoulders towards second base after a bunt single and was tagged out in a game against the Reds last season.

But it won’t do too much to abate the frustrations of four games in Oakland -- in fact it might just fuel it.

Following Mancini’s exit -- which stymied a potential rally with a two-out baserunner and the heart of the order looming -- the Orioles rattled off four runs in the final five frames. The caveat: those happened to fall against one of the less-than-stellar outings from O’s pitchers this season, with Tyler Wells lasting just 2 1/3 frames before and Dillon Tate later conceded rare runs themselves.

The four-run output tied the Orioles’ second-highest total on the season. But even that accomplishment is a concern. The two-run inning in the seventh was just the seventh individual frame in which Baltimore has scored multiple runs.

They sit last in the Majors with 28 runs scored, three back of the Royals.

“We just need to put more good at-bats together throughout a game,” Hyde said. “We're not putting enough good at-bats together to consistently have rallies.”

Mancini was hoping his first career ejection -- which he doesn’t plan to have any more of -- was a spark for the afternoon. It partly was. But the O’s will have to wait for Anaheim to try and see any more in the way of results.

“We've been in a rut offensively, and I was hoping that it would maybe light a little bit of a fire under us, just switch up the mojo or something,” Mancini said. “It's a mix of us pressing -- there's certainly been a lot of bad luck in there -- but at the same time, we haven't been doing the best job as a unit, I'd say. I was kind of hoping after I was out of the game that the tide would maybe turn a little bit. We did have a couple of rallies there, but obviously fell short.”