Is it too soon to install a Trey Mancini statue alongside the Orioles’ legends at Camden Yards?
OK, maybe we’ll give it some more time.
But the 25-year-old rookie outfielder had the game of his life Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates, crushing a game-tying, two-run homer in the ninth and a walkoff, three-run blast in the 11th to become the Orioles’ newest late-inning hero.
And, oh yeah, he didn’t even enter the game until the ninth inning.
“It was definitely something I wasn’t expecting before the game,” Mancini said. “But baseball is a game where you never know what can happen.”
That anything-can-happen motto was particularly apropos for the Orioles during their two-game interleague series against Pittsburgh. Both times, the Orioles seemed all but out of the game, falling behind early and facing a multi-run deficit.
Both times, though, the Orioles pulled off a stunning, late-inning comeback, setting up an extra-inning win.
Their Wednesday comeback was particularly unexpected. For much of the night, the Orioles looked sloppy. Lefty Wade Miley suffered his worst start of the year, giving up four runs and eight hits without getting out of the third inning. The Orioles’ bats were held in check by Pirates righty Chad Kuhl, who entered the game with a 6.02 ERA. Mark Trumbo was picked off third base to end the fourth inning.
Yet all those mistakes were washed away by the Orioles’ ninth-inning comeback, with the decisive blow coming against embattled Pirates closer Tony Watson, who blew his second save in as many nights.
Mancini, pinch-hitting for Seth Smith with the Orioles down to their last out, fell behind in the count but hung tough against Watson, battling for eight pitches before launching the game-tying homer into the right-field bleachers.
“He had some tough pitches,” Mancini said. “As the at-bat went on, I kind of relaxed a little bit and calmed down. I was just trying to drive a ball to right-center field and keep the game going there. I definitely wasn’t thinking home run, and if I was, I don’t think the result would’ve been the same.”
Despite the calm at-bat, Mancini was visibly excited as he rounded the bases with the tying run, completing the Orioles’ four-run ninth.
“We’re down 6-2 in the ninth inning, [and] everybody has great at-bats and gave me a chance to come up there,” Mancini said.
That was only the start of Mancini’s memorable night.
Two innings later, he stepped up against lefty Wade LeBlanc — who was the loser in the Orioles’ walkoff win the previous night — with two on and two out.
One pitch later, Mancini’s mammoth blast into the left-field seats made the Orioles instant winners.
Mancini received a standing ovation from what remained of the Camden Yards crowd of 19,957, a fitting celebration for his two-homer, five-RBI night.
“He makes it look easy and I promise you it is not easy to do, to come off the bench and get hits,” catcher Caleb Joseph said. “It really amazes me. To come in and make an impact, not just once but twice, it really is amazing. That’s the type of player Trey is. Trey is ready at all times. That’s the type of player we love and we need to have on this team, to pick us up when we need him.”
Mancini stopped short of saying it was his most memorable game as a major leaguer, though.
“This is a pretty special night, for sure,” Mancini said. “I’d still say maybe my first home run [was more memorable], because of my mom being there and the reaction from the stands. That was something that I don’t know will ever be topped on a personal level. But tonight was pretty special too and a great team win.”
It capped off a 6-3 homestand for the Orioles, one in which they won two games each against the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Pirates. The successful stretch helped erase some of the sting of the 3-13 slump that preceded it.
“I think that was a great homestand for us,” Mancini said. “It’s always great to come back here and play. We’ve had a lot of success up to this point of the year here. So hopefully we can take this momentum on the road with us.”