Orioles shake up roster after loss to Giants

Wilkerson, Wynns optioned to Triple-A Norfolk; Davis may return; Sisco recalled; Mancini lets bat do talking

June 3rd, 2019

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles shook up their roster following Sunday’s 8-1 loss to the Giants, while also hinting at the arrival of one of their more promising prospects.

In optioning utility man Stevie Wilkerson and catcher Austin Wynns to Triple-A Norfolk, the Orioles cleared a spot for the expected return of Chris Davis, plus one more. With Pedro Severino the only other catcher remaining on the 40-man roster, the path was cleared for Chance Sisco to return to Baltimore. He was recalled on Monday.

Sisco is putting up career numbers at Norfolk, hitting .289 with a .914 OPS and 10 home runs across 44 games this season. That kind of production would be welcome for a club that ranks in the bottom third in the Majors in runs scored and was held to three runs on 10 hits over Saturday and Sunday by a Giants team that sports one of MLB’s worst rotations.

“As an offense, we haven’t done as good of a job the last couple of days,” Trey Mancini said. “We have to figure some things out there.”

Sunday’s defeat came at the hands of Jeff Samardzija, as the veteran righty allowed little more than Mancini’s solo homer across six innings. Longtime nemesis from his time with the Rays, Evan Longoria, homered as part of a three-RBI day, and Brandon Crawford hit two solo shots to send the Orioles to their 10th series loss in 11 tries. Baltimore hasn’t won a series since taking two of three from the White Sox in late April.

“After (Friday’s 9-6 comeback win) the other day, that was a win that you think might give you some momentum,” Mancini said. “It really stinks to drop the next two after that. We have to find ways to string some together.”

Baltimore now travels to Texas in the seas of some change. By the time their three-game set against the Rangers begins Tuesday, the Orioles will have made what they hope is a franchise-altering pick in Monday’s First-Year Player Draft, where they own the top overall selection. That presents some optimism for an team currently on an identical win-loss pace as a year ago, when it dropped a franchise-record 115 games.

Here are some takeaways from Sunday’s rubber game, and what the Orioles can take from it going forward.

Mancini takes matters into his own hands

Forget T-shirts, Mancini will campaign for the All-Star Game with his bat. On a day when newly-designed “VOTE FOR TREY” shirts appeared en mass in the Orioles' clubhouse, Mancini showed immediately why he’s the prime candidate to represent the club in Cleveland in mid-July, lining a solo homer to right-center off Samardijza in the first.

It was the latest evidence of a breakout season for Mancini, who leads the Orioles in nearly every major offensive category. You won’t see him sporting any of the apparel himself, though.

"I told myself I’m not going to get caught up in any of that, and just go out and help the team win, which unfortunately didn’t happen today,” Mancini said. “I’m not much of a self-promoter, but I’m honored to have the shirt here and have the support of my teammates and people like Brooks Robinson. I saw him during the game, it was extremely humbling to see him hold that shirt.

Ynoa bids to stay in rotation

Gabriel Ynoa probably deserved better despite taking the loss, as he held San Francisco to two earned runs over five innings in his latest bid to remain in the Orioles' rotation. Longoria’s solo homer and two-run double were Ynoa’s only mistakes, though the latter may have been avoided if not for a costly balk, an overthrown cutoff man by DJ Stewart, and botched double-play ball by Wilkerson opened the door for the Giants in a critical fifth.

“I thought Ynoa threw the ball really well,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I just thought we got down and that was one of those games, and we haven’t had many of them where I thought we just got really flat.”

Helping Ynoa’s case is how David Hess and Dan Straily, whose rotation spot Ynoa assumed this week, continue to struggle. Straily surrendered three runs over three innings of mop-up relief Sunday, his first appearance since piggybacking Ynoa with four-plus excellent innings Monday. Hess was charged with seven earned runs in Saturday’s 8-2 defeat, and has lost his past seven decisions.

Is Mountcastle next?

Already facing a roster crunch with more bat-first/corner types than a normal roster allows, the Orioles maintain their desire for Ryan Mountcastle to accumulate more at bats at Triple-A before seriously considering promoting their top prospect. But just two months into his tenure at Norfolk, Mountcastle is sure making the case that his bat is big-league ready.

Recovered from a minor left wrist injury, Mountcastle has now hit four homers in three games since returning to the lineup this weekend. Three of those came Sunday, when Mountcastle led the way in a 10-0 win over Louisville. He became the first Tides player to homer three times in a game since Chase Lambin on July 15, 2005. The 22-year old is hitting .328 with 11 homers and a .930 OPS through 46 games, and is tied for third in the International League with 63 hits.

Mountcastle’s age and defensive learning curve at first base mean he likely won't be summoned until later this summer at the earliest, but his performance was especially notable on an afternoon when Sisco’s arrival seemed imminent.