Matt Harvey entered Sunday’s fifth inning poised to avoid what would’ve been his first outing in nearly two months that he couldn’t describe using an expletive or the term “unacceptable.”
He avoided those descriptors Sunday, but the Toronto Blue Jays’ fifth-inning rally left the veteran Orioles right-hander with more of the same in a 7-4 loss in front of a season-high crowd of 14,917 on Father’s Day at Camden Yards. Two home runs from Trey Mancini, giving him 100 in his career, might’ve been enough to overcome a fifth inning in which Harvey allowed four runs after pitching four scoreless frames if not for three more runs scoring on the bullpen’s accord.
Harvey allowed only four hits through those initial frames, having left the bases loaded in a 29-pitch first. But Toronto had five knocks in the fifth as Harvey recorded only one out before manager Brandon Hyde summoned Adam Plutko from the Baltimore bullpen.
“I think just the long first inning kind of got to me towards the end there,” Harvey said. “Stuff was good early and then obviously, just kind of wasn’t there in the fifth. With the stuff I had early, I should have been in the sixth or seventh inning and there should be a lot less runs on the board. Just have to keep pushing for it and try and avoid those really long innings that can just wear you down.”
Harvey has not finished the fifth inning since May 1, a nine-start stretch in which his ERA is 11.49 and the Orioles are 1-8. Sunday’s defeat marked Baltimore’s 10th in 11 games and left the Orioles with a series loss to Toronto despite winning Friday’s opener and leading by three entering the ninth inning of Saturday’s contest.
Including Harvey, the past three pitchers to post an ERA of at least 7.80 in their first 15 starts of the year have been Orioles, with Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jiménez both doing so in 2017.
Hyde, though, was pleased with what Harvey provided before the fifth.
“For me, he had that long first inning, but that was the best four innings that he’s thrown since he’s been here,” Hyde said. “Just from a stuff and command standpoint, I was really impressed. They obviously got to him there in the fifth, but with our bullpen the way it is, it was unfortunate.
“Hopefully he can build off that and get through the fifth, sixth in his next start.”
With Plutko’s 2 ⅔ innings of hitless relief being the exception, six of the final seven Orioles relievers in this series allowed at least one run.
After the unit surrendered the final eight runs in Saturday’s defeat, Baltimore’s bullpen allowed three more Sunday, with two off César Valdez in the eighth in his first outing in a week and another off Dillon Tate in the ninth.
By games played, Mancini hit the 100-home run milestone the fastest of any Oriole who started their career in Baltimore. He treasures the fact he reached it at all.
After missing the 2020 season battling stage 3 colon cancer, Mancini said Sunday’s achievement “means a lot.”
“There were a lot of times last year I thought I’d always be stuck on 86 and not get the opportunity to hit any more,” Mancini said. “It’s definitely something I cherish and won’t take for granted.”
His two-run shot in Sunday’s eighth inning gave the Orioles 14 straight runs scored via long balls dating to Cedric Mullins’ curtain call-prompting three-run home run Friday.
“When you face good pitchers, you’ve got to try to string some hits together and that’s not something we’ve done really well this year, to be really good up and down the order and grind at-bats out,” Hyde said. “But it’s nice to see us drive the ball.”
In the first, Mancini golfed a full-count changeup just beneath the zone from Toronto left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu out to center field for what was only his second home run in his past 20 games. After his 4-for-4, three-home run day Saturday, Ryan Mountcastle followed Mancini with a single, giving him hits in six straight at-bats.
From that point on, the only hit the Orioles got against Ryu was Freddy Galvis’ second-inning single. They got their fair share of hard contact against him, including a Mancini lineout in the sixth that came off his bat at 113.9 mph, the hardest he has hit a ball this season, according to Statcast.
After getting nothing to do show for that one, Mancini made up for it in the eighth. With Ryu out of the game after throwing 100 pitches, Pedro Severino took Trent Thornton deep to cut into the deficit, and with Pat Valaika on first after getting hit by a pitch, Mancini sent a 1-0 cutter in the middle of the zone out to right-center, giving him a team-high 14 home runs.
“I have not been feeling like myself for on and off I’d say all month,” Mancini said. “I’ve had a few spurts where I felt decent and things, but that’s baseball for you. I felt really locked in last month and haven’t felt this good. Today, I just made sure to try to just simplify things, make sure I just stay on my back side and keep my front shoulder in there and not flying open.”
Santander, Hays playing sore
Two of the Orioles’ key young outfielders are playing through residual soreness from ailments that landed them on the injured list earlier this season.
Austin Hays, who has two IL stints for a strain in each hamstring, and Anthony Santader, who missed a month with a sprained left ankle, both moved slower than usual running up the first-base line during Sunday’s defeat.
“They’re doing the best they can,” Hyde said.
The Orioles announced a collection of minor league promotions Sunday evening. The highlights included infielder Gunnar Henderson, their No. 6 prospect according to Baseball America, moving to High-A Aberdeen; No. 7 prospect Yusniel Diaz rejoining Triple-A Norfolk after a rehab assignment; and No. 27 prospect Kyle Stowers and right-hander Kyle Brnovich, one of the four pitchers they acquired from the Los Angeles Angels for Dylan Bundy, heading to Double-A Bowie.
Monday, 7:05 p.m.
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