BALTIMORE -- Trey Mancini began the season on a tear, setting the tone for what would be a career summer with a monster April. Now, he’s finishing just as hot.
That remained true Tuesday, when Mancini was one of the few bright spots in the Orioles’ often unsound 8-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. Several fundamental mistakes, a four-run Blue Jays ninth and one historic Cavan Biggio cycle helped Baltimore drop the opener of its final homestand of the season, after which manage Brandon Hyde chided his team’s effort and execution.
“I was really disappointed to be honest with you, from the second inning on,” Hyde said. “For the most part this year, I thought we’ve competed our tails off. I just thought we made a lot of mistakes tonight. I thought we played like a really tired team.”
Hyde made an exception of Mancini, who plays with a passion and pride that’s often plain to see. The latest example came Tuesday, when Mancini accounted for four of Baltimore's runs before the game slipped away from Mychal Givens in the ninth. Mancini opened the scoring with a two-run first-inning homer, tied the game with a sac fly and briefly put the Orioles ahead with a seventh-inning single off Justin Shafer.
On the heels of a torrid series in Detroit, Mancini is now hitting .354 with five homers and 15 RBIs over his past 12 games. He’s homered in four of five, and hit safely in 14 of 15. Mancini improved to .280 with 34 home runs, 88 RBIs and an .880 OPS on the year. All are career-high numbers.
“He is playing his best baseball of the year right now,” Hyde said. “I love the way he’s getting the ball in the air. This guy brings it every single night. Love the effort, love the intensity.”
The production Tuesday came in support of Chandler Shepherd, who allowed three runs over four innings in his first Major League start. Homers from Randal Grichuk and Biggio put Toronto ahead early, before Mancini’s sac fly knotted the game in the fifth.
That put the onus on the Orioles’ bullpen, which held the line until Shawn Armstrong cracked in the eighth, and Justin Smoak connected for a go-ahead homer off Givens an inning later. Biggio broke the game open with a two-run triple later in the frame; he’d homered, singled and doubled in his previous three at bats.
Biggio’s cycle was the first by a visiting player in the nearly 27-year history of Camden Yards. But what drew Hyde’s ire were the communication issues that allowed two routine popups to fall between Oriole fielders, and baserunning blunders like Jonathan Villar’s in the seventh, when he ran into an out at third on Mancini’s game-tying single.
Thrown together, they were the types of mistakes that seem to have become more common as the 49-102 Orioles limp toward the finish line.
"Everybody is tired," Hyde said. "You have to grind through it."
From the trainers' room
The Orioles remain concerned about Mason Williams after the center fielder left Tuesday’s game with injury, following a collision with the center field wall in an attempt to snag Biggio’s ninth-inning triple. Hyde said Williams was not showing signs of sustaining a concussion as of Tuesday night, despite hitting his head and knee on the play.
Williams will be monitored overnight with hopes that he can remain symptom-free; if issues arise, they’d at least come close to ending the outfielder's season. Williams, 28, is 8-for-30 with two RBIs in 11 games since being summoned from Triple-A earlier this month.