BALTIMORE—For Trey Mancini, 2018 has been a most unpleasant experience. A year earlier, Mancini had a breakthrough rookie season, hitting .293 with 24 home runs and 78 RBIs, finishing third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
This year, Mancini started going downhill April 20 when he injured his right knee trying to make a catch in foul territory down the left field line at Oriole Park.
At the time, Mancini was hitting .284, and by June 22, it was down to .219. Since then, he’s basically been treading water.
On Saturday, Mancini had a four-hit game for the first time in his career, and the Orioles scored in double digits for the second straight game — the first time they’ve done that since July 18-19, 2017.
The Orioles’ 11-2 win over Tampa Bay marked just the seventh time this season they’ve recorded consecutive wins, and they’re still just 31-74.
Mancini is hitting .229 with 13 home runs and 29 RBIs.
Perhaps best of all for Mancini, it came on his bobblehead night.
“Maybe we should have done this back in May to get the ball rolling then,” Mancini said. “It was a cool night here. Definitely something to appreciate.”
He thought that the bobblehead was an accurate portrayal.
“Pretty good. I was wondering how much extra time it took to paint the scruff on my face,” Mancini said.
Mancini wasn’t the only Oriole to have a strong offensive night. Joey Rickard equaled his career high with five RBIs. Rickard’s first five RBI game came May 13 when the Orioles scored a 17-1 win over the Rays.
Jonathan Schoop extended his hitting streak to 11 games, though he didn’t homer for a sixth straight game. In the eighth inning, Schoop hit a long fly to left, but Tampa Bay’s Joey Wendle caught the ball as it was going over the wall.
Schoop has moved his average up to .244 with an exceptional July.
Before the game, manager Buck Showalter said he was hoping Mancini did the same.
“I hope so. I was looking on the plane at Trey’s year last year, how good it was, and will be again,” Showalter said. “It’s painful to watch how hard he takes it. Sometimes, you can be your own worst enemy. It’s something that Jon got through.
“The level is so good, the pitching is so good, and the little things can set you into … I talk a lot about shortening that period. Jon and Trey haven’t been able to shorten that. Once it gets going, the ball looks good, everything slows down. Trey, it’s almost like he’ll have a game, and there you go, and then he’ll have an at-bat or so that’ll put him back on his heels or so.”
The Wright stuff
Earlier this season, many fans were calling for the Orioles to cut Mike Wright. After eight appearances, Wright had a 9.15 ERA. Since then, he’s more than cut it in half to 4.50 after a scoreless inning Saturday night.
“I do feel I’ve been pitching well for a very long time,” Wright said. “My numbers still aren’t great so that just tells you how rough I started out. Hopefully, that’s the last time I go through [that]. If it’s not, I know how to approach it now.”
Showalter has noted the difference.
“I think he’s just a lot more confident,” he said. “You tell with his presence. You know he’s carrying good stuff. He threw a pitch last night he would never have attempted to throw in April and May.”
Wright, who pitched parts of three seasons with the Orioles from 2015-17 with little success, changed his approach this year.
“The biggest thing this year is I put a lot more faith in God, and this is where I’m supposed to be and not put so much pressure on myself to be perfect,” Wright said.
“Every run that I gave up would eat at me for days, and now it’s just I kind of let what happens happen and just try and compete. It used to eat at me a lot. I got married this offseason, and I can go home and talk to my wife, and before all I was thinking about was baseball.”
Wright, who began listing himself as “Mike Wright Jr.” this year, married his wife, Madison, late last year. Madison Wright has degrees in exercise physiology and nutrition science from East Carolina and a master’s from the University of Florida in nutrition science.
“It’s a lot easier to do things the right way when you have someone there with you doing them as well,” Wright said. “The nutrition is there, the lifting is there. That’s been there for a long time. The steadiness of my mind, having her, and having faith in the Lord that this is where I should be.”
Kevin Gausman was the beneficiary of the Orioles’ offense. He allowed two runs on nine hits over seven innings. Gausman recorded just his second win since May 11.
Gausman was delighted by the support.
“It’s great, kind of give yourself a little room to breathe,” Gausman said. “Kind of hard to come by this year, but obviously the last two nights, they’ve seen the ball, swinging the bats really well. When it’s going like that, you should not be the one to mess it up.”