Mancini adds jolt, but O’s still in stupor
For an Orioles team suffering through an ugly September swoon, it took a rookie making his second major league start to provide the offensive spark the Orioles desperately needed Thursday night against the Boston Red Sox.
With one swing, Trey Mancini gave the Orioles more runs than they had scored in any of their previous five games, his three-run homer off Red Sox left-hander David Price tying the score at 3 in the third inning.
It was the injection of life an Orioles team that is seemingly on its way to a slow death needed.
Mancini became the first player in club history to homer in each of his first two major league starts, and the first to homer for each of his first two major league hits. But that joy was fleeting as the Orioles were ultimately swept by the Red Sox WILD CARD Toronto Detroit Orioles Houston Seattle New York Kansas City 83-69 82-70 82-71 81-72 80-72 79-73 77-76 +1 — with a 5-3 loss at Camden Yards.
It was just a week ago that the Orioles returned home from their most successful road trip of the season, just one game back of the Red Sox after right-hander Kevin Gausman’s eight-inning scoreless gem sealed a series win at Fenway Park.
The Orioles’ world has turned since then. Any hopes of a division title are all but officially out of grasp as the focus turns to one of the two American League wild cards. At the beginning of this week, before the Red Sox arrived at Camden Yards for four games, these Orioles (82-71) controlled their future. Now, after being swept, they fell out of the second wild-card slot after the Detroit Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins, 4-2, on Thursday night.
The Orioles must change their fortunes with three games this weekend against an Arizona Diamondbacks team that is 24 games under .500 before a sixgame road trip to Toronto and New York, where the Orioles are a combined 4-10.
The addition of Mancini, who averaged a homer every 30.6 plate appearances this season in the minor leagues, has been a boost against left-handed pitching. And his homer off Price, a former Cy Young Award winner, adds another chapter to an intriguing story.
But after four games against the Red Sox this week at Camden Yards, it’s obvious that the Orioles and the AL East leaders are on different playing fields.
Things can change, but they must do so in a hurry for the Orioles to avoid a disappointing end to this season. But if the four-game home sweep the Orioles suffered this week is any indication, the gap between the Red Sox and the Orioles is as wide as the seven games in the division standings that separate them.
Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman, who had been the team’s most reliable starter, and a stopper when it found itself in a rut, lasted just 12⁄ innings for his shortest start of the season.
Making his third start since returning from a shoulder injury, Tillman allowed eight of the 13 batters he faced to reach base on four singles, three walks and a triple.
Tillman’s struggles mirrored those of the three previous starters of the series. Dylan Bundy, Gausman and Ubaldo Jimenez battled through long innings and deep pitch counts early on while the Red Sox arms were a model of pitch efficiency, helped by an overly aggressive Orioles lineup.
Red Sox starters averaged 71⁄ Trey Mancini embraces teammate Adam Jones after Mancini hit a three-run home run in the third inning to tie the game. innings over the series, while the Orioles rotation averaged less than 42⁄ innings.
The ERAs of the teams’ rotations were equally disparate this series. Boston’s starters posted a 2.45 ERA, while the Orioles’ starters owned a 6.38 ERA.
The Orioles, who were 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position in the series, scored just five runs in their first three games against the Red Sox before Mancini’s home run. And Mancini’s leadoff double in the sixth was the only hit off Price after the third inning.
Howthe Orioles stranded Mancini at second in the sixth was a microcosm of the series. After Mancini went the other way on a changeup from Price — the same pitch he hit into the left-field stands two innings earlier — for a stand-up double down the rightfield line, the Orioles were unable to score the tying run.
Second baseman Jonathan Schoop was unable to hit the ball to the right side to advance Mancini to third, grounding out to third instead. Shortstop J.J. Hardy then flied out to center field and left fielder Drew Stubbs struck out.
Long reliever Vance Worley gave the Orioles much-needed length after Tillman’s early exit, but allowed a two-out RBI single to rookie left fielder Andrew Benintendi in the fifth inning. Hanley Ramirez’s solo homer off left-hander Donnie Hart in the seventh added extra insurance the Red Sox wouldn’t need.
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