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Mountcastle's 1st 2 HRs travel a tidy 830 feet

Fine-tuned offensive prospect accomplishes O's feat not done since Machado in '12
@JoeTrezz
August 30, 2020

During normal times, it’s customary for team employees to track down the fan who catches a player’s first career home run. A deal will be brokered, and, more often than not, the ball is returned to the player as a keepsake. These, you may have heard, are not normal times.

During normal times, it’s customary for team employees to track down the fan who catches a player’s first career home run. A deal will be brokered, and, more often than not, the ball is returned to the player as a keepsake. These, you may have heard, are not normal times.

And Ryan Mountcastle didn’t exactly make it easy. That’s because there are no seats beyond the left-field wall at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, and because Mountcastle’s first career homer probably would’ve cleared any regardless.

Playing in his eighth career game, the Orioles’ most polished offensive prospect hit a moonshot for No. 1, traveling 420 feet in the second inning of Sunday's 6-5 walk-off loss to the Blue Jays. Mountcastle then followed that up with his second homer of the day off starter Tanner Roark in the sixth, sending a 410-foot, two-run go-ahead shot to left that ended the right-hander's afternoon.

Box score

“I guess it went over the net, so they had to go out on the street to find [the ball],” Mountcastle said. “There are a couple of scuff marks on it.”

Packaged together, the power provided the bulk of the offense on a day the Orioles reshaped their roster with a pair of trades and battled back twice only to watch a ninth-inning lead evaporate. Mountcastle’s homers pushed Baltimore ahead after Jorge López allowed three runs over 4 2/3 innings in his rotation debut, and José Iglesias’ ninth-inning infield single temporarily put the O's ahead after Hunter Harvey blew a one-run lead in his season debut.

O's deals for Givens, Milone net 5 players

But Cole Sulser walked the bases loaded ahead of Teoscar Hernández's two-run walk-off single, sending Baltimore to its 11th loss in 13 games. Since taking over the closer’s role after his dazzling season debut, Sulser owns a 5.40 ERA with 13 walks in 13 1/3 innings. He’s now blown three of eight save chances and been charged with the loss in three of his last four appearances.

“Anything is open right now,” manager Brandon Hyde said postgame, when asked about bullpen roles. “I will keep my options open. We just didn’t have a lot of guys available today.”

On top of getting Harvey back and enduring Sulser’s struggles, the Orioles also traded Mychal Givens to the Rockies on Sunday and could part ways with other bullpen arms before Monday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline. They are a team in a transitional state, as evidenced by the departures of veterans like Givens and Tommy Milone as much as the arrivals of Keegan Akin, who will make his first career start in Monday's series finale, and Mountcastle.

“Those were two long home runs,” Hyde said. “He swung the bat outstanding today. You saw the raw power potential there.”

It was the latest in what’s been an impressive showing so far for Mountcastle, Baltimore’s reigning organizational player of the year. He also singled off Roark in the fourth; over his first eight Major League games, Mountcastle is 11-for-28 (.393) with four extra-base hits and four walks. He became the fourth Oriole with a multi-homer game within his first eight contests, and the first since Manny Machado in 2012. He’s reached base in all but one of those games.

“To finally be able to live out the dream has been a really cool experience so far,” Mountcastle said. “To have a pretty decent day today was definitely a breath of fresh air.”

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.