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Mancini a middle-of-order staple against lefties

TORONTO – Rookie Trey Mancini made just his fourth major league start Wednesday night at Rogers Centre, and despite that inexperience he's found himself a home in the middle of the Orioles' batting order – albeit a slumping one – against left-handed pitching.

Mancini batted fifth against left-hander Francisco Liriano. It's the third time he's hit in that spot. He entered Wednesday having homered in all three games he's started, and has also been patient with his at-bats.

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The insertion of Mancini into the heart of the lineup is an indication of how much the Orioles have struggled offensively of late. The 24-year-old has jumped into his role.

"I think the importance of all the games I've played in kind of outweighed the fact that they were my first major league games," Mancini said. "It's cool, but at the same time, that's not the most important thing that's happening in this game, by any means. It almost helps in a way to be in this race, because there's no focus on that. I'm just one of the guys in the lineup. That's kind of the way I've approached it, and I think that's helped me as far as my comfort factor."

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Mancini entered Wednesday 5-for-11 in his brief major league career, and he's been surprised with how much he's played, basically assuming at-bats that Steve Pearce would have had against left-handers.

"Kind of as an outsider, you know it's late in the season, and I hadn't had any major league experience," Mancini said. "But it gave me some confidence when they called me up and threw me into the fire almost, and I told myself, 'Hey, I have this opportunity and I'm playing. I have to perform here.' It's been pretty incredible. I'm just happy to help contribute."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he's been pleasantly surprised with the contributions of Mancini, who has been one of the club's most productive hitters in a slumping lineup that's scored three runs or less in nine of their last 10 games.

"You know when you're young and bulletproof and you don't have anything to say, 'I shouldn't be doing this,'" Showalter said. "… I don't talk to him a whole lot about it, say, 'You know what's going on?' He doesn't need that. ... I think he's a smart guy, but I think sometimes ignorance might be bliss. I'm sure he knows what's going on."

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Mancini's power is there, Showalter said, but it was likely stunted by playing at cavernous Harbor Park at Triple-A Norfolk. Mancini hit 13 homers in 125 games for the Tides.

"You also have to understand the venue and the atmosphere he was playing in down there," Showalter said. "He feels like he's been let out of jail. He's hit balls and they go, 'Oh, that ball went over the fence here.' We've tried to fix it. We moved the fences in some, but you can't change the wind currents. … That's the difference between an 18-home run season and a 23-home run season.

Looking ahead to New York: Right-hander Yovani Gallardo is scheduled to start Friday's series opener at Yankee Stadium, Showalter announced.

Gallardo will be working on six days rest after going on eight days and seven days before making his previous two starts.

Gallardo is coming off a quality start in his last outing Friday – he held Arizona to two runs on five hits over six innings. He has held opponents to three runs or fewer in three of his last four outings.

His last outing against the Yankees in the Bronx was his worst of the season.

Gallardo lasted just 1 1/3 innings – his shortest start of the year – in a 14-4 loss. He allowed a season-high eight runs (seven earned) on six hits.

Showalter said that Wade Miley, who is currently away from the team for the birth of his first child, had a work day on his own Wednesday and is scheduled to start Saturday's game in New York.

Miley, who is coming off 8 2/3 innings of one-run ball in his last start Saturday against Arizona, has made just one start this season against the Yankees, allowing four runs on five hits in five innings in a 5-2 home loss on Sept. 4.

Around the horn: Saturday's game in New York, which was originally scheduled as a 1:08 p.m. start, will now begin at 4:08 p.m. The game will air on MASN and 105.7 FM The Fan. … The Orioles announced a pair of "postseason push" rallies to take place this weekend. The first will be Friday at Mother's North Grille in Timonium from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The second will take place at Walmart in Towson Marketplace on Saturday from 1-2 p.m. Visit www.orioles.com/rallies for more information.

twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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