Orioles reporter Eduardo A. Encina discusses the Orioles' 10-6 loss to the Astros. (Eduardo A. Encina, Baltimore Sun video)
HOUSTON — Left field at Minute Maid Park might be one of the most difficult places for an outfielder to navigate in the major leagues. It has a 19-foot-high wall down the line that ends with a nook in left-center. There are two pillars — both in play — that jut out a from a chain-link fence, behind which relievers watch the game from the bullpen.
When the Houston Astros' Carlos Correa sent a drive to left-center off pitcher Mike Wright Jr. in the first inning Tuesday night, Orioles left fielder Trey Mancini raced back near the bullpen, right where a 25-foot-high wall drops to 10 feet. Mancini missed catching the ball as both he and the ball hit the padded fence.
Mancini fell and the ball ricocheted along the warning track to center field, where it eluded Adam Jones. Jones ran the ball down and threw it to toward the infield, but Correa rounded the bases with a two-run inside-the-park home run.
“That’s my fault,” Mancini said. “I have to make that play. That changes the whole complexion of the game. That’s totally on me right there.
“He hit it pretty well in the gap. I was out early, trying to get the lay of the land out there. I thought I had about 4 more feet and I reached up, kind of jumped up and my arm hit the wall…. [Left field is] a little different, but every field has its unique qualities that make it difficult. That is no excuse for why I missed it. I have to go back and catch that.”
Said Orioles manager Buck Showalter: “We spend a lot of time [working out there] when you get out here. … I would have liked it if we hit it and rattled it around in there.”
It was the first inside-the-parker the Orioles had allowed since the Tampa Bay Rays’ David DeJesus connected off Bud Norris on Sept. 7, 2014, according to STATS Inc.
That play wasn’t the only thing that went against Mancini on Monday night. In the fourth inning, he hit an opposite-field blast that right fielder Josh Reddick flagged down and brought back into the yard, taking away what would have been a three-run homer that would have given the Orioles a lead. Instead, Mancini had to settle for a sacrifice fly.
Then in the sixth inning, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman took a hit away from Mancini, backhanding a ball deep down the third-base line and throwing from foul territory to get him by a half-step.
“Both those guys are elite defenders and I found that out the hard way tonight,” Mancini said. “That is baseball. It’s really frustrating, but I have to figure a way to put it behind and come back tomorrow ready to go.”