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Mountcastle busts out as O's end skid vs. NY

@JoeTrezz
September 5, 2020

Friday marked two full weeks since the Orioles summoned Ryan Mountcastle from their alternate training site, hoping the extended reps they gave their No. 5 prospect there meant once he finally reached the Majors, he’d stick for good. It looks like that is going to happen. That’s because the results

Friday marked two full weeks since the Orioles summoned Ryan Mountcastle from their alternate training site, hoping the extended reps they gave their No. 5 prospect there meant once he finally reached the Majors, he’d stick for good. It looks like that is going to happen.

That’s because the results on Mountcastle aren’t just good. He’s simply been the Orioles’ best player over the past two weeks -- by a variety of hitting, defense and baserunning metrics. The latest example came in Friday’s 6-3 seven-inning win over the Yankees in Game 2 of a doubleheader, when Mountcastle’s best all-around effort yet led the Orioles to their first win over New York in 19 tries.

Box score

By earning a split of the twin bill, the Orioles also snapped an 19-game losing streak to the Yankees at Camden Yards that dated back to July 2018. They came one loss from tying the all-time record for one team at home against a single opponent after dropping Game 1, 6-5.

The longest win streaks vs. one opponent

“We’ve had a tough time against them, and they’re a good club,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’ve had opportunities in the past and didn’t finish them. Tonight we finished the second game.”

Mountcastle played an outsized role, homering and driving in the game-tying run as part of a 3-for-3 night.

He pulled a 397-foot homer off Deivi García in the third, beat out an infield single in the fourth and lined an RBI single off Clarke Schmidt in the fifth. The O’s went ahead for good on Rio Ruiz’s RBI single and added insurance with Pat Valaika’s two-run double off Schmidt later in the frame. Cesar Valdez earned his first MLB save with two shutout innings behind winner Jorge López.

Through 12 big league games, Mountcastle is hitting .356 with three homers runs and a 1.020 OPS. He leads the Orioles in Wins Above Replacement over that stretch.

“He’s going to be a special kid for the Orioles,” said López, who earned his first win as an Oriole by holding the Yankees to three unearned runs over five innings. “He’s showing great at-bats and unbelievable execution pitch by pitch. He’s a guy who is going to do a lot of damage in the future.”

Said Hyde “He’s playing hungry, and it’s really, really fun to watch a young guy come up with hype playing with this much energy and this much confidence. He’s been a big boost.”

Since Mountcastle was recalled last month, Hyde has spoken often about how impressed he’s been with the rookie’s athleticism, both in left field and on the bases.

Mountcastle certainly surprised the Yankees hustling down the line to beat out his infield hit in the fourth, using a 27.9 ft./second sprint speed to outrun what looked like a routine ground ball to third. A former shortstop who switched positions multiple times in the Minors, Mountcastle was considered a below-average runner as a prospect. But he’s showing as much speed in the Majors as Austin Hays, per Statcast, clocking in only behind plus-runners Cedric Mullins and Andrew Velazquez on an Orioles team that’s been weaving small ball into its offensive identity.

“I feel like I have something to prove, and I just like going out there playing hard every day and working on my craft,” Mountcastle said. “I like to run hard, and maybe people might look at me and think I’m slower than I am. Maybe some sneaky speed might mean a couple more hits.”

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