BALTIMORE—Perhaps the most fascinating of all the new Orioles in 2019 is Hanser Alberto. His story has been told enough — claimed on waivers from the San Francisco Giants in January, lost on waivers the next month and quickly claimed back.
It was surprising that Alberto made the Opening Day roster, and while his early success was unexpected, it’s now become expected.
Alberto, batting leadoff, had two hits, including the go-ahead RBI in the seventh, as the Orioles came back twice from deficits and beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-4, on Saturday night.
With the score tied at 4, Chris Davis led off the seventh with a walk and moved to third on Stevie Wilkerson’s double. After Jace Peterson fouled out, Alberto punched a single to right, and the Orioles took a 5-4 lead. Trey Mancini’s infield out scored Wilkerson.
“There’s nothing sexier than a base hit the other way with a runner in scoring position for me. Love it,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Seriously, it’s a beautiful thing. One thing you know is, Alberto is going to swing and he’s going to cover the plate.
“So, he’s going to always give himself a chance. He never pulls off, uses the big part of the field. Guys that hit with runners in scoring position, that’s what they do. Use the whole field. A lot of our guys could learn from that.”
Alberto, who doesn’t strike out much (34 times) and walks even more rarely (8), isn’t looking for the long ball.
“I think I just follow the pitch,” Alberto said. “Wherever he throws the pitch, that’s where I’m going to hit the ball. You don’t want to make a really big swing, you want to put the ball in play and try to let the guy behind you do the rest.”
He’s not sure other players can follow his example.
“That’s an ability God gave me,” Alberto said. “Sometimes, I try to do too much, and that’s when I make a lot of outs. But when I try to follow pitchers, I don’t do too much, and that’s when I get success.”
Mychal Givens worked 1 1/3 innings, striking out three to get the win. Paul Fry picked up his third save.
The Orioles are 37-73. Last season, they didn’t get their 37th win until the 123rd game, putting them 13 games ahead of that pace.
Bundy’s night: Dylan Bundy worked 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits. Bundy gave up a run on Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s RBI double in the first — a shot that fooled leftfielder Anthony Santander — and Freddy Galvis’ home run in the third. Galvis also homered on Friday night.
Bundy struck out seven and walked one. He threw 97 pitches. Hyde has allowed Bundy to exceed 100 pitches only once.
Bundy left with a 4-2 lead but wasn’t involved in the decision.
Bleier shaky: Richard Bleier has had an erratic season. He came into the game with a two-run lead and a runner on first. He allowed a game-tying home run to Ryan McGuire.
Bo Bichette singled and tried to score when Galvis hit a shot past Alberto at third and into the left-field corner. Santander did a good job of playing the ball against the wall and throwing to cutoff man Richie Martin.
Martin’s throw home was on the third base side, but catcher Pedro Severino made an excellent catch and tag. Bichette was initially ruled safe, but was ruled out out on appeal. It was a game-turning play because the Orioles took the lead in the bottom of the inning.
Givens relieved Bleier ,whose ERA is 6.34.
Mancini’s power kick: Mancini hasn’t hit well after the All-Star break, batting .232, but he’s hitting for power. His three-run home run put the Orioles ahead, 4-2, in the fifth.
Mancini, who had four RBIs, has nine homers and 20 RBIs in the 20 games since the break.
“There have been some periods of time I thought the home runs almost masked how I felt at the plate, which wasn’t great,” Mancini said. “But overall I feel good at the plate and sometimes the hits will come and sometimes they won’t. But overall I’m pretty happy with everything.”
He’s inspired the Orioles.
“How much has he meant?” Bundy said. “He means the whole team, I think. He shows up and plays every single day and seems like every single day he has a hit, also. Sometimes it’s a homer … Or an extra-base hit. It means a lot to this team, and I’m happy he’s still here.”
Opener on hand: Hyde said that Jimmy Yacabonis will open for the Orioles on Sunday and will be followed by Tom Eshelman. On July 26, Yacabonis opened for Eshelman against the Los Angeles Angels. The Orioles won that game, 10-8, in 16 innings with Wilkerson getting the save.