It started as quite the upbeat weekend, with the Orioles scoring an exciting comeback victory in the opener of their three-game interleague series against the San Francisco Giants.
It did not end well.
The O’s offense, which had been producing above the low expectations that followed the rebuilt lineup into the season, took the rest of the weekend off and allowed the Giants to take the series with Sunday’s 8-1 victory at Camden Yards.
“After the first game the other day, that was a win you think maybe can give you some momentum and it really stinks to drop the last two games of the series after that,” Mancini said, “but we’re going to have to find ways to string some together to kind of keep the momentum going.”
Of course, there was a little more to it than just the quiet bats. There were also a couple of defensive gaffes that helped the Giants take control during the middle innings.
Second baseman Stevie Wilkerson muffed a routine double play ball in the fourth inning and rookie outfielder DJ Stewart overthrew a cutoff to help put an extra runner in scoring position before Evan Longoria bounced a double over the right-center field fence to pry open a one-run game.
It was pretty much a one-man show to that point for the Giants. Longoria had homered off Orioles starter Gabriel Ynoa an inning earlier, tying a game the O’s had led since Trey Mancini hit his 12th home run of the season in the first.
The solo shot by Longoria was the 22nd of his career at Oriole Park, tying him for third among visiting players. The other 21 were hit during his 10 seasons as the offensive leader of the AL East rival Tampa Bay Rays.
Mancini picked a good day to add to his home run collection. The Orioles are mounting a campaign to get him elected to the All-Star team and distributed a new #VoteTrey T-Shirt to his teammates and other Orioles personnel around the ballpark.
Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, whose high school All-Star game was set to take place later in the day, held up the T-Shirt when he saluted the crowd of 16,991 on the video scoreboard during the second inning.
Though most of his teammates donned the shirts proudly in the clubhouse, Mancini was sheepish about wearing his own name emblazoned in large letters on his chest.
“I don’t know why,’’ manager Brandon Hyde quipped before the game, “he wears his name on his back every day.”
If Mancini’s homer off Giants starter Jeff Samardzija looked as if it might be a sign of things to come, his fellow Notre Dame alum clearly had other ideas. He gave up just two more hits in a strong six-inning performance that improved his record to 3-4 and dropped his ERA to 3.61.
“After that, he threw a great game,’’ Mancini said. “He’s got a running fastball and he ran it in really effectively and located. He just made that one mistake there, and after that, he was pretty lights out. Jeff threw a great game for them.”
Hyde was obviously displeased with the defensive blunders, but he also had to give credit to Samardzija, who snapped a six-start winless streak.
“Jeff’s an experienced guy and he’s facing inexperienced hitters, and he’s able to move the ball around and stay off the barrel and he did that,’’ Hyde said. “So we got beat, but we beat ourselves defensively. We didn’t put zeroes out of the pen to keep us in the game. It was just kind of a rough game.”
Ynoa did not pitch poorly. He likely would have gotten out of the fifth inning clean if not for the Wilkerson error, and had given up just two runs on four hits up to that point. He finished the fifth and was charged with just two earned runs he gave up in the fourth.
The Giants never looked back. They scored four times against relievers Brandon Kline and Dan Straily to turn the game into a blowout that sent the O’s to their 41st loss in 59 games — a pace that would leave them just short of the record 115 losses the club suffered last season.
“That was one of those games, and we haven’t had many of them, where I thought we just got really flat,” Hyde said. “Once they took the lead, it was just one of those games when we hurt ourselves defensively, a couple walks. I thought Gabby threw the ball really well, but we didn’t score that many runs. It’s tough to win that way.”