The Baltimore Orioles have all sorts of things going their way these days.
Charging toward the final days of July with a winning record is unusual territory.
More good things could be coming with the start of a three-game interleague series against the host Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.
But it also has been a time of reflection for the Orioles, with organization stalwart Trey Mancini’s status a bit uncertain with the trade deadline approaching.
“We’ll see what happens. I don’t think anybody knows,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “… Any manager would love to manage Trey.”
Whatever happens, the Orioles don’t want Mancini’s status to turn into a distraction.
Baltimore and Cincinnati played afternoon home games Thursday.
The Orioles used four pitchers in a combined four-hitter in a 3-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The highlight was Mancini’s two-run, inside-the-park home run in the eighth inning.
“It’s home to me,” Mancini said of Baltimore. “No matter what, a big part of me is always going to be here.”
The Orioles won three of four games against the Rays, moving to 50-49. With the next nine games against teams with sub-.500 records, it’s Baltimore’s chance to make a move toward playoff contention. The next six are on the road, so the Orioles won’t return home until after Tuesday’s trade deadline.
“Just not worrying about the deadline and try to win (Friday) in Cincinnati,” Hyde said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re playing good baseball. We just beat the Rays in three out of four. We need to go to Cincinnati and continue to play well.”
The Reds failed to protect a ninth-inning lead and lost 7-6 to the Miami Marlins, leaving a split of the four-game series.
Reds manager David Bell said he left in starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft for the beginning of the seventh inning and that might have cost Cincinnati a run. Still, he wanted to see how one of the pitchers would handle that situation.
It’s part of the learning process for a manager as well.
“Most of the time, I take it out of their hands because they want to stay out there,” Bell said. “It’s a tough call.”
For the Reds offense, Tyler Naquin hit only his second home run in July.
Since the All-Star break, the Reds have scored five or more runs in five of their seven games.
They might need big run production as left-hander Mike Minor (1-7, 6.65 ERA) gets the start Friday night. Cincinnati has lost its last six games when Minor has been on the mound, and he took the loss in five of those.
Minor’s career record against the Orioles is 2-1 with an ERA of 2.20.
The Orioles didn’t announce a starter for Friday. There were pitching moves Thursday, with Tyler Wells going on the 15-day injured list. Nick Vespi was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, while Logan Gillaspie and Beau Sulser were recalled, though neither was used for Thursday’s games. That should leave them well-prepared for games in Cincinnati.
Gillaspie and Sulser were identified by Hyde as the only two relievers available following a 10-inning game Wednesday night other than those pitchers used in Thursday’s shutout.
“We have a really good bullpen,” Hyde said. “It’s fun.”
–Field Level Media