Two of the top young sluggers in the American League go head to head for a second straight night when the visiting Seattle Mariners and the Baltimore Orioles continue their three-game series Saturday.
Powerful Mariners prospect Kyle Lewis made his Camden Yards debut with a home run and a double on Friday night, but the Orioles provided the rest of the game’s power in a 5-3 win in the series opener.
Lewis’ homer was his sixth in 10 games since a Sept. 10 promotion from Double-A. He became just the fourth major-leaguer to hit as many as six homers in his first 10 games in big-league history.
Lewis is getting an extended look in the absence of Mitch Haniger, who had 15 homers in 63 games before sustaining a ruptured testicle.
A subsequent back injury sustained while rehabbing following surgery has kept Haniger out of the lineup since June 6, triggering a chain of events that eventually led to the promotion of Lewis, 23.
Any concern about how Haniger, primarily a right fielder, and Lewis, who has made nine starts in right, might coexist was put to rest Friday when Mariners manager Scott Servais basically announced that Haniger won’t return this year.
“(Haniger) still has a few issues going on,” the skipper told reporters before the series opener. “Obviously we’re at the point in the season where it doesn’t look great for him getting back on the field. I don’t rule out anything, but it would be very difficult.”
The man responsible for dealing with Lewis at the start of Saturday’s game will be Orioles right-hander Asher Wojciechowski (3-8, 5.38 ERA), who already has allowed 16 homers in 72 innings this season.
Wojciechowski has faced the Mariners just once in his career — in his second big-league start for the Houston Astros in 2015. He was roughed up for four runs on eight hits in four innings in a no-decision, allowing five doubles, but no homers, in Seattle.
The Mariners are expected to counter with left-hander Justus Sheffield (0-1, 5.40), who has never faced the Orioles.
He should expect to see Trey Mancini in the first inning, the frame in which the designated hitter walked and scored Friday as part of a four-run uprising that formed the foundation of Baltimore’s victory.
Mancini, normally a first baseman and right fielder, wound up with a single and a walk in four plate appearances, raising his average to .287. He is 16-for-35 (.457) with four homers and 16 RBIs in his past eight games.
Before the game, the Baltimore-area media announced it had voted Mancini, a 27-year-old in just his third full big-league season, as Orioles’ 2019 Most Valuable Player. The outfielder/first baseman began play Friday as one of just 16 in the majors with at least a .286 average, 23 homers and 93 RBIs.
“He’s had an amazing year,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde told reporters. “He’s finished the year extremely strong. He’s done everything for us this year. An All-Star-type year, a great player, one of the better years in the American League. Class guy. He’s everything you want. Well deserved.”
–Field Level Media