The Baltimore Orioles taxed Jordan Lyles with starting the final game of this week’s series with Tampa, and the current homestand. However the focus wasn’t on Lyles today for the most part. He put the O’s in a spot to win (and was credited with the win of course), but the main focus today was on Trey Mancini. And boy did he ever not disappoint this afternoon. Lyles’ line: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K.
The O’s got on the board in the last of the third when Anthony Santander smacked an RBI-double. And that one run would in theory have stood the test of time. Lyles and the Oriole ‘pen were strong this afternoon. But that’s almost not even news anymore. What is news is what the eighth inning had in store for the Orioles and Oriole fans.
We’ve all heard the trade rumors swirling around Trey Mancini. And we all know Mancini’s story when it comes to the cancer treatments he had to undergo. While the national media and the league have tried to spin it into a feel-good baseball story, in reality it’s a Baltimore story. And the fans at today’s game who applauded for Mancini at every turn of the way absolutely got that.
Mancini came up with Austin Hays on second base in the last of the eighth inning. Almost on cue, the fans rose to their feet and saluted Mancini, who at that point was POSSIBLY entering into his final at-bat as an Oriole at Camden Yards. And what an at-bat of consequence it was shaping up to be, with the Birds leading 1-0 and a runner in scoring position. Mancini was in a position to give the O’s at least one insurance run, and possibly put a cap on his career as an Oriole at the same time.
But as can often happen in moments like these in sports, Mancini did perhaps the thing not a soul expected. He sent a fly ball to fairly deep right field. The Tampa right fielder misplayed the ball and if fell in play. Not only that, but it rattled around a bit in the right field corner.
Hays scoring was a given. But as Tampa played the ball back in, Mancini was waved home. And he slid into home plate just before the tag, and kicked up a cloud of dirt in the process. This gave the Orioles a 3-0 lead, which solidified into a 3-0 win. They took three-of-four from Tampa, and four-of-seven on the home stand.
Again, make no mistake that Mancini’s story is a Baltimore story – this as opposed to a great story for MLB, which is what the league and the national media wants people to believe. And if come the trade deadline (August 2nd) Mancini’s no longer an Oriole, that was a great Baltimore and/or Oriole moment today. Because there would have been NO BETTER WAY for him to close out his Orioles’ career (at Camden Yards). It’s obvious that he doesn’t want to leave, nor do the Orioles really want to trade him. It’s just something that may have to be done.
Incidentally, the backhanded question to be asked could be whether or not the Tampa right fielder committed an error on the play. The ball appeared to deflect off of his glove ever-so-slightly. And I mean REALLY slightly. But the guy had obviously lost the ball in the sun based on his body language, and I presume that the official scorer picked up on that and awarded an inside-the-park home run as opposed to an error. Either that or he got caught up in the moment himself. Either would be an acceptable answer.
The O’s now head to the Great American in Cincinnati to open a three-game series this weekend against the Cincinnati Reds. The Birds have yet to announce a starter, but whomever he is will be opposed by Cincinnati’s Mike Minor. Game time is set for approximately 6:40 PM.