Myriad O's Thoughts: Davis' booed, then delivers; Schoop breaks skid; Mancini scare - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Myriad O’s Thoughts: Davis’ booed, then delivers; Schoop breaks skid; Mancini scare

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

It was just a single to right field in the fourth inning Wednesday, a well-struck liner that bounced safely in the outfield grass.

But it scored a run and snapped a 0-for-12 skid by struggling slugger Chris Davis, who hadn’t picked up a hit since the fourth inning on Friday when he homered in Yankee Stadium.

Davis’ RBI single Wednesday followed his at-bat in the second inning, in which he struck out on three pitches and was booed on his return to the dugout – an indictment of how much he has struggled this early season.

“It’s nice to know you were hearing those too and it wasn’t just me,” Davis quipped after the Orioles’ 5-3 win against the Toronto Blue Jays. “Amidst the boos, there are always people picking me up. I think our fan base understands the amount of work that goes into it, the effort that is there on a night-in, night-out basis. But, ultimately, I know they want results. I don’t like the boos, but I understand their frustration. But, honestly, I hear more positive things throughout the game than I do boos, and that’s really what picks me up.”

RBI singles are rarely worth writing about. Especially by a guy who landed the franchise’s wealthiest contract to hit baseballs deep into the night.

But Davis has looked so lost early this season, especially the past few days, that making good contact and driving in a run is noteworthy. Some fans rose to their feet after the RBI single – it’s hard to tell whether it was mock applause or genuine support after his ugly start.

Davis had another good at-bat in the seventh, when he went the other way with a pitch and singled through the open hole at shortstop. Hitting to the opposite field is often a sign that Davis is starting to feel more comfortable with the bat.

That single made it two hits in three trips to the plate in one game for Davis after having three hits in 38 at-bats to start the season. It was his first multi-hit game of 2018.

“Yeah, it’s nice to have two hits instead of one. Somedays, I’ll take one instead of none, So, ultimately the goal is to win the game, so it was nice to feel like I contributed and, obviously, great to get a W.”

With Wednesday’s singles, Davis raised his average to .122, a 41-point hike. Still, that’s far from productive, but, for one night, he was in the offensive mix.

Schoop breaks skid, too

While most of the spotlight of the club’s offensive woes has been on Davis, second baseman Jonathan Schoop has struggled with the bat, too.

The 2017 Most Valuable Oriole entered Wednesday batting .189 with one homer, one RBI and one walk, and he had struck out 16 times. Perhaps more alarming, Schoop was 0-for-13 and fanned seven times with runners in scoring position.

He broke out of that Wednesday, doubling in the fourth inning to plate Manny Machado for the Orioles’ first run. And then in the fifth he added a bases-loaded single, giving him two RBIs for the game and two hits with runners in scoring position.

“It’s just a reminder, this guy, the number of runs he scored last year, the number of runs he drove in, what he hit, what he did for us. And Jon, he wants to do it every night,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He worked hard. He works hard and he never assumes everything. It’s like he’s playing to establish himself every night, so I’m glad to see him get something back for it.”

A scare with Mancini 

The Orioles really can’t afford a major injury right now to a key player, specifically a hitter who has been productive so far this season. And one who has, at least temporarily, helped solve the club’s leadoff dilemma.

So, there was some deep breathing in the sixth when left fielder Trey Mancini swung at an inside pitch from John Axford and the ball struck him in the right hand. Mancini was in considerable pain and immediately was examined by head athletic trainer Brian Ebel.

“His ball runs a lot and for some reason I decided to swing at that pitch and I learned the hard way that I shouldn’t have done that,” Mancini said. “It hit my hand when I swung, my middle finger actually, in particular. Everything’s OK, though. Got a precautionary X-ray, nothing broken, so yeah, I’m good.”

Mancini’s middle right finger was wrapped, and he said it was a little sore to grab a bat and grip a ball, but otherwise he thinks he avoided a scary injury.

“There’s a little pain for sure,” he said. “Thankful we have an off-day tomorrow and I think after that I’ll be good to go.”

Mancini stayed in the game and singled in that at-bat.

While he was on the basepaths, though, he continued to flex his right hand. And, before going back out to left field the next inning, he made a couple practice throws and tested his grip on the baseball.

“Yeah, we made him do that because he was just going to run out to left field. Brian was already on it. I told him, ‘Just make sure he can grip the ball and throw,’” Showalter said. “I almost ran for him at first (base), but the game was close and I knew that his at-bat would come again. He had shown that he was able to hit with it.”

The guy is in his second full season in the majors, but he’s already a huge part of this team. Losing him would have been a dagger.

Rough series at the gate

The Orioles lost two of three to the division rival Blue Jays week, but not a lot of people watched it in person.

The three-game series drew an announced crowd of 26,954, or an average of 8,985 a game.

That’s not good.

Monday’s game – in brutal cold and bone-chilling drizzle – drew 7,915, the smallest announced paid crowd in Camden Yards history (excluding the no-fans game in 2015). The Orioles announced Tuesday’s attendance – which is actually tickets sold – as 8,640 and Wednesday’s at 10,399.

So, it is going in the right direction.

Certainly, the weather plays a major part here, as does the month and day of the week. April weekdays are often poor draws. And Baltimore isn’t the only major league city that has seen sparse crowds so far this season.

Still, this is worth monitoring as the season goes on.

Last year, the Orioles averaged 25,042 fans per game, their lowest since 2011. This week, the Orioles barely eclipsed that average as the total for a series.

That’s not the right direction.

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38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. DauerPower

    April 12, 2018 at 7:26 am

    I believe attendance will be down but it is not due to the product on the field. I am a Steelers fan and last year they had many no-shows throughout the year despite 13-3 record. The stadium experience is no longer the thrill it once was. Blame hidef TV, concession pricing, etc.
    I’m surprised the O’s don’t close the upper deck for April midweek games. especially when weather is this crappy.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 9:03 am

      For all the factors I’ve considered involving the Orioles attendance — and I’ve thought and written about it a lot — I think the biggest factor is TV. MASN televises all 162 games to your living room. It’s high def. Great camera work and angles. You eat and drink your own food. Pause live action if you get disrupted. It’s so much easier.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 12, 2018 at 8:06 am

    As a long time basher of Crush, I was more than pleased to see him obviously try to go to the opposite field on one of singles yesterday. Baby steps for sure, but hopefully a sign of new approach for the big fellow.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 9:04 am

      I don’t make too much of one game, obviously. But it is better than the alternative.

  3. Mau

    April 12, 2018 at 8:17 am

    Despite the dearth of hits it appears Chris is striking out at a lower clip. Progress? Somehow I think Chris is going to have a better year.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 9:04 am

      He was. But then had a 4 K game since then it’s been about one a game or so.

      • Mau

        April 15, 2018 at 4:43 pm

        0-4 today but no K’s. Yay.

        Tillman is toast. Cobb fits right in. Nothing like spotting the other team a 1st inning lead. That’s what we do.

        Team appears to be assuming the position…again. #Sad.

  4. 5brooks5

    April 12, 2018 at 8:24 am

    As a long time season ticket holder, I am certainly not surprised by the low attendance, given the terrible weather and lack-luster play. But I have to say that the team does not do much to encourage an atmosphere of being fan-friendly. I have two adult friends who were at the game Monday night,they were about a third of the crowd, and amid the cold,mist, and late in the game; they were not allowed to move down behind the plate for the last two innings, by the Gestapo-like ushers. I have seen this type of attitude so many times,one opening day my daughter needed some cash and wasn’t allowed to come to my seat in section 36 to sponge off her old man. I have seen fans told to ” sit down” and stop cheering at a BASEBALL GAME, not a drunken, rude cheer,but a fan rooting for his team. Given that, I must applaud the team for their children under nine free policy this year, I may have the particulars wrong, but that is a great idea! Some common sense could go a long way towards making it a more relaxed, fun, time at the yard. It ain’t rocket science.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 9:08 am

      I’ve heard the usher complaints before. And see it happening in front of the press box. The unwritten rule is you can move to the lower bowl in open seats beyond the bases. But they closely monitor between first and third. The Kids Cheer Free and allowing fans to bring in their own food are pretty fan friendly tho.

  5. Osfan73

    April 12, 2018 at 8:43 am

    Hitting to opposite field and against shifts I have always thought would help Davis….as the hits and average would go up then maybe the confidence at the plate would too. Perhaps he’s been trying that and we finally started to see it last night. The power will always be there.
    Good to see the offense accompany good pitching at the same time to get the W as well.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 9:09 am

      He’s always says he tries it. It’s just not been that easy for him, especially if he doesn’t want to abandon the power.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        April 12, 2018 at 9:57 am

        Abandon the power?? I can’t regurgitate the numbers, but I clearly remember him going to left and left center for quite a few taters the year he hit 52.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 11:19 am

      Yeah. But he is clearly shortening the swing right now just to place the ball in play.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        April 12, 2018 at 3:06 pm

        No argument with that.

  6. Orial

    April 12, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Yes encouraging about Davis especially opposite field hit. Good fact pointed out that the on a team with a strike out streak going Davis doesn’t seem to be one of the major culprits. Orioles attendance problems are plain and simple–Washington Nationals.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 9:09 am

      That’s certainly part of it. But just one ingredient I think.

  7. Wade Warren

    April 12, 2018 at 9:11 am

    the ball he it with the bases loaded was scorched too maybe the worse is behind him

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 11:21 am

      One would hope. I’d think it would be almost impossible for the worst to be ahead.

  8. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    April 12, 2018 at 9:17 am

    The 7th inning at bat by Davis was probably his best this season. He was quickly down 0-2 and battled back with a single to right. Thats what good hitters do, hopefully this approach continues.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 11:22 am

      And going the other way — while still driving the ball — was a strength of Davis’ in the halcyon days

  9. Bancells Moustache

    April 12, 2018 at 9:37 am

    MLB RECORD FOR STRIKE OUTS IN A SEASON: 1535 Houston Astros 2013
    ORIOLES CURRENT PACE: 1769 (142 in 13 games, 10.923 per game)

    After a brief scare on Tuesday, which saw the Birds somehow nearly get no-hit with a pathetic 4 K’s on the board, coupled with the news that elite whiffer Mark Trumbo did not experience a setback while being setback, our heroes responded with a robust 11 strikeouts to keep the dream alive.

    Nice to see our boy Chris start to take baby steps toward competence again. That each baby step cost approximately $41,400 gives an idea why the boo birds were out. In fairness to Chris, it was only about 4 or 5 drunk dudes, their voices just stood out among the two or three dozen attending the game.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 11:23 am

      That’s unfair. It was the second inning; there had to be almost hundreds there. I nearly counted (but then remembered I’m a sportswriter, not a math guy).

  10. Dblack2508

    April 12, 2018 at 9:42 am

    The stadium was definitely quite sparse last night. I got a great parking space. Schoop looks as if a shortened his swing a bit. Davis hit to look left is hopefully the beginning of more to come, we shall see.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 11:24 am

      Schoop was out EARLY taking BP. He’s not messing around.

  11. GSISDANNO

    April 12, 2018 at 9:55 am

    After watching the last three Orioles games against Toronto, I am appalled at the lack of fan support that the Orioles received. I know it was cold but these were huge games against an A.L. East rival. Oriole fans have the best ballpark in MLB and all you can see are empty green seats. Yes, the team is struggling. But, real fans show up no matter how the team is playing. If you don’t support them now, you don’t have the right to celebrate their successes.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 11:27 am

      I think there is plenty of support — hey, we’ve built an independent and successful website in two years off that interest and support — I just don’t think that equates to attendance anymore. Especially with high-definition TV options for every home game.

  12. Bancells Moustache

    April 12, 2018 at 10:10 am

    Orioles attendance woes? Hmmm…

    “Everybody in Baltimore excuses Oriole attendance because the community is so mad for the beach (or “shore,” as it is known in those precincts, as in “C’mon down the shore next Chuesday, and we’ll tip a coupla Bohs”). To hear Oriole officials tell it, it would seem as if Baltimore is the only city in the country where swimming and summer vacations are in vogue. Says a local reporter: “It was sad to hear Cashen and Dalton explaining how come we didn’t even come close to selling out for the last game of the World Series. They were going on all about the weather, TV, the entertainment dollar—all like it was a bad gate with the Indians in the middle of July, not the final game of the World Series.”

    Frank Deford “The Best Damn Team in Baseball” Sports Illustrated, April 12 1971

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 11:28 am

      That is enlightening.

  13. Birdman

    April 12, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Several factors at play in the Orioles attendance decline including, as noted, the growth of big screen Hi-Def television and competition from the Nationals. Also, can’t ignore the effect of the 2015 riots, and the increase in the violent crime rate in Baltimore over the past several years. Whether or not it is actually any more dangerous to go Camden Yards than it was 10 or 20 years ago, I think there is a perception of increased danger among many folks in the suburbs.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 12, 2018 at 11:29 am

      I think that perception plays into it some. I think there are myriad factors. And it’s an unperfect storm for the Os.

  14. Dpsmith22

    April 12, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Both Schoop and Dvis’s doubles weren’t good swings. They were both way out in front and more able to flick it down the line.

    However, they are great for the mental part of hitting and both of them need that to get rolling.

    My issue with Davis is his lack of change. He hasn’t changed his stance. He still takes that long stride. He still has that swing that doesn’t keep his bat in the zone very long. I wish he would flatten his swing out a bit and go wider with his stance. All he needs is to barrel the ball, not hit the warehouse. EGO is in the way of progress at this point.

  15. AlaskanOsFan

    April 12, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    I was curious after seeing Mancini have 3 HRs taken away so far this season from him by nice OF plays..do the Os lead the league in this stat it seems like year to year, and or does Camden Yard have the highest HR “robbery rate”?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      April 12, 2018 at 3:11 pm

      I think that’s a fair question. Going back to the days of Brady & Devereaux it does seem like a lot of fence climbing occurs in that park.

  16. jkneps63

    April 12, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    I formally nominate Gregg Ritchie (GWU head coach) as the Orioles new hitting coach!

    http://www.gwsports.com/sports/m-basebl/mtt/gregg_ritchie_826398.html

  17. jkneps63

    April 13, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    No more Tillman please. 87-88 isn’t going to cut it and compensating by keeping your pitches outside of the strike zone isn’t a good strategy!!!

    Hess > Tillman

    • jkneps63

      April 13, 2018 at 7:44 pm

      Note the time of the original post! 7:28, after Tillman walked Betts but before he gave up 4 runs. Why in the world are they running Tillman out there? He is done! Done! Bring up Hess and at least see what he’s got to offer, it’s gotta be better than a 11.32 ERA with a WHIP over 2.50, it’s gotta be better than that.

      • Birdman

        April 13, 2018 at 8:00 pm

        Yes!

        • jkneps63

          April 13, 2018 at 8:09 pm

          If they bring in anyone other than Wright after Tillman then there is a great conspiracy to destroy the franchise I love! I once owned #5 orange and black pajamas for Pete’s sake!

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