Orioles infielder Jonathan Villar stores many of his keepsakes in his 3-year-old daughter’s room. There’s a pink fielding glove, special Father’s Day batting gloves and a bobblehead commemorating his 2016 major league stolen base title.
He figures the ball from Monday’s cycle-clinching single will fit right in with the rest of Kaylee Helena’s budding collection.
In a 9-6 loss to the New York Yankees, Villar hit for the fifth cycle in Orioles history and the first since Felix Pie’s on Aug. 14, 2009. He was unaware of the feat until Orioles first base coach Arnie Beyeler told him when he reached on a ninth-inning single off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman.
“I never pay attention to that," Villar said. "Everybody didn’t say anything because when you say something, maybe you miss it. ... When the first base coach told me, I was like, ‘Really?’
“It’s the same rule as when a pitcher throws a no-hitter. Nobody says anything.”
Instead, Villar let his play do the talking. After he struck out to begin the bottom of the first against New York’s Masahiro Tanaka, Villar tripled off the center-field wall in the third, then scored on Trey Mancini’s subsequent single.
In the fifth, he hit a soft line drive into right field for what appeared to be an easy single, but he took off for second when right fielder Aaron Judge nonchalantly approached the ball and tossed it into the infield.
“That’s my game right there,” Villar said. "He’s flipping the ball, and I never stopped running. The manager, all the time, says, ‘You need to run hard all the time. You never know what’s going [to happen].' "
Cycles in Orioles history
Jonathan Villar, Aug. 5, 2019, vs. Yankees
Felix Pie, Aug. 14, 2009, vs. Angels
Aubrey Huff, June 29, 2007, vs. Angels
Cal Ripken Jr., May 6, 1984, vs. Rangers
Brooks Robinson, May 15, 1960, vs. Red Sox
Villar has been putting that hustle on display often recently, with seven of his 24 steals coming in the past 11 games. He had none Monday, but he was running around the bases all night.
“He played a really nice baseball game,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “That shows you the tools that he has. He’s obviously extremely exciting, and when things are going well, he’s a game-changer.”
Perhaps the only time Villar didn’t hustle was in the sixth, but he didn’t need to. Amid a five-run Orioles rally, Villar hit his 15th home run to tie the game at 6. His Swiss Army knife of a celebration included stopping, staring, bat-flipping, skipping, clapping and looking into the Orioles dugout before completing his run around the bases.
He started a double play with a diving stop at shortstop in the top of the ninth, then came up against Chapman with one out in the bottom half. He blooped the single into right and received a standing ovation from the Orioles fans among the announced 20,151 in attendance.
“It was unbelievable,” Villar said. “I’m very happy.”
After right-hander Mychal Givens handled the “face the other team’s best” role that had been designated for him by going up against the Yankees’ top four hitters across the seventh and eighth innings of a tie game, Hyde turned to left-hander Paul Fry to face consecutive left-handed batters.
The first of them, Mike Ford, hit one of New York’s two home runs off Fry and one of five total in their victory. The Yankees’ 32 home runs at Camden Yards in 2019 are the most by any team at a visiting ballpark in major league history, and two more games remain in this series. The home runs from Ford and Mike Tauchman, his second of the game, in the eighth wasted a five-run Orioles rally in the sixth that starred Villar’s game-tying home run.
“It sets up perfect for Paul Fry,” Hyde said. “He just had a tough night.”
The Yankees also got home runs from Austin Romine and Brett Gardner as the Orioles also became the first team in major league history to allow multiple home runs in 10 straight games, just two weeks after becoming the first major league team to hit multiple home runs in 10 straight games.
His upbeat personality aside, Mancini is generally stoic on the field. So, to see him fired up to the point of hopping out of Baltimore’s dugout to yell at umpires during the fourth inning Monday showed how frustrating a review that ruled Jace Peterson out at home truly was.
The Orioles, in their first of 13 straight games against teams with playoff aspirations, showed an aggression on the basepaths that didn’t pay off. Two of their first 12 outs came at home, when either runs would’ve broken a 1-1 tie.
In the third, Mancini was thrown out at home trying to score on a one-out double by Anthony Santander. Although Mancini started rounding third as the ball got to Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius, third-base coach Jose Flores sent him, and Gregorius’ throw came in time to nab Mancini at the plate.
An inning later, Peterson and Chris Davis reached via walks to be on the corners as Stevie Wilkerson came up with two outs. On an 0-1 pitch, Davis, who has no steals in 2019, broke for second. With Romine’s throw from behind the plate going high, Davis slid in safely as Peterson charged toward home. Gregorius threw back to Romine, and home-plate umpire Ed Hickox called Peterson out.
Hyde challenged the call, thinking Peterson beat Romine’s tag, but a replay review upheld it, prompting Mancini to come out yelling in frustration before Hyde ushered him back into the dugout.
“I thought it was a joke, to be honest with you,” Hyde said afterward. "I thought it was pathetic. I don’t know. I’m standing right on the line. It’s clear-as-day to me, as well as the entire crowd on the replay in the stadium. I just thought it changed the whole momentum of the game at that point, and I thought it was absolutely pathetic.