Trey Mancini acknowledges that he hasn’t been good at hiding his frustration with his season-long struggles at the plate with runners in scoring position. He knows it, his teammates know it, his manager and coaches know it, and after he slammed his helmet emphatically after stranding a pair of base runners in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Miami Marlins, everyone knew it.
“The helmet slam was kind of minor to what I was feeling at that moment,” Mancini said. “I can’t even really describe it. And I haven’t really done a good job of leaving it at the field, too. This is my life and I want to be good at it and I feel like I haven’t been doing that the last month, so, yeah, it’s been really difficult.”
And while Mancini also realizes one hit won’t free him of that feeling, there was a subtle sense of relief when he played a part in the Orioles’ 10-4 win over the Marlins on Sunday, a victory that represented the club’s top offensive output in more than a month.
Mancini capped a three-run third inning Sunday with a two-out RBI single that ended a 0-for-21 streak with runners in scoring position.
The acknowledgement from those in Orioles uniforms was subdued — third-base coach Bobby Dickerson gave Mancini a high-five and patted him on the chest between innings, and teammates Jonathan Schoop and Jace Peterson offered fist bumps — but it served as much-needed encouragement to a hitter searching for something to build on.
“You get to know the guys pretty well and know that their faces are telling you a story,” manager Buck Showalter said. “This is the first time he’s gone through something like this. You’re trying to be real supportive with not only him, but everybody. We have three or four conversations a day. We’re going to keep trying to create some positive vibes. I’m hoping it turns for a long time.”
Last season, Mancini was the Orioles’ most-productive hitter with runners in scoring position, batting .340 with a 1.091 OPS with in those scenarios. But this season, Mancini has struggled, hitting .082 with a .353 OPS entering Sunday with runners in scoring position.
“It seems like I’ve been searching for a month,” Mancini said. “I’ve had so many people trying to help me out and help me through this, but at the end of the day, it’s got to be you.”
In Mancini’s eighth-inning at bat Saturday, he came to the plate with runners at the corners and two outs, worked his way out of a 0-2 hole and hit a sharp grounder up the middle that Marlins shortstop JT Riddle deflected before corralling the ball and throwing it to first in time to get Mancini.
“I try not to show much emotion on the field one way or the other, but I thought I finally came through with a hit there and it hits off his glove and the shortstop makes a good play,” Mancini said. “Last year, [hitting] with runners in scoring position, that was my bread and butter. It was one of the best things I did, and this year’s I’ve massively struggled and a lot of times, when I do have good [at-] bats in those situations, stuff like that happens, it just kind of goes at somebody. It’s just a culmination of everything.”
The results haven’t been there, but Mancini’s contact hasn’t been much different from last season. His hard-contact percentage is nearly the same — 32.4 percent compared with 34.1 percent last season — as is his strikeout rate (24.5 percent this year and 23.7 last year) and he’s actually drawing more walks this year (9.1 percent) than last year’s 5.6 percent.
But over his past 28 games entering Sunday, Mancini is just 15-for-103 overall (a .145 average) with 34 strikeouts and just two RBIs, both coming off home runs.
“I don’t look at advanced stats that much, but I feel like if you look at it, there’s probably not that many glaring differences between my strikeout rate and all that stuff,” he said. “I literally have no idea, but, yeah, a lot of my at-bats, I’ve actually felt decent. It’s just last year with these balls, I was getting hits. And when you start pressing, and you start losing a little bit of that momentum that you feel like you have every game, it can be tough.
“Yeah, it’s a crazy game. “You can let it consume you even further or you can find a way to get out of it, so I’m trying to do the latter there.”