As the Orioles ran onto the field tonight for the anthem at Camden Yards, Adam Jones found his mark and stood next to Trey Mancini with his back to the infield. Cedric Mullins trailed them, despite Jones’ urging that he leave the dugout first, and stepped in between, finding his niche as the new center fielder.
He wasn’t too bad as the No. 9 hitter.
Mullins lined an RBI double to right field off Nathan Eovaldi in his first major league at-bat in the second inning, bringing the Orioles’ portion of the crowd to its feet for a loud ovation. Jones raised his hand to Mullins while standing against the dugout railing, then scored the kid with a two-out, two-run single.
Brought to the plate again in the third, Mullins collected his second hit and RBI on a bouncer that Brock Holt couldn’t backhand. Too much topspin. Too much Mullins for the Red Sox, who still overcame a five-run deficit because they’re the best team in baseball and defeated the Orioles 19-12 before an announced crowd of 23,649 at Camden Yards.
Mullins collected another double in the ninth on a 99 mph fastball from Joe Kelley and scored on Jonathan Villar’s single. Mullins is the first player in Orioles history with three hits in his major league debut.
Boston sent 11 batters to the plate in the sixth, drew five walks - two with the bases loaded to force in the tying and go-ahead runs - and scored six times to take an 11-8 lead. Tim Beckham led off the bottom half with a home run off Heath Hembree and Chris Davis added a sacrifice fly, but the Orioles’ pitching is just too vulnerable.
Andrew Benintendi hit a three-run homer off Donnie Hart in the seventh, Mookie Betts had a three-run double off Evan Phillips in the eighth and J.D. Martinez delivered a two-run single off Tanner Scott to foil the comeback plan. Hart retired only one of seven batters faced, let three inherited runners score and was charged with three.
The Orioles walked 10 batters tonight, hit one and threw two wild pitches. They lost for the 81st time and officially have been eliminated from the division race in their 116th game.
The 19 runs are the most surrendered by the Orioles since the Twins matched it on July 16, 2012.
Mark Trumbo hit an opposite-field home run in the eighth to get the Orioles within a touchdown and two-point conversion.
Mullins, whose contract was selected earlier today, went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, a walk and three runs scored. He raced home in the third on Beckham’s single that increased the lead to 8-3 and ended Eovaldi’s night.
The walk came against left-hander Drew Pomeranz, with the switch-hitting Mullins batting from the right side. It’s been the weakest for Mullins, who’s posted averages of .181, .217, .208 and .220 during his climb up the system. He’s hit .293, .290, .293 and .279 against right-handers.
Jones waited after the second inning for Mullins to bring his glove and gave the rookie a congratulatory pat on the backside. If it got any cuter, the game would have moved from MASN to the Disney Channel.
Davis led off the second inning with his 14th home run of the season, a shot to center field that traveled 422 feet, according to Statcast. Renato Núñez walked, Caleb Joseph singled and Mullins’ family and friends raised their iPhones to record his at-bat.
Mullins got around on a 97 mph fastball that was tailing toward his hands, and he settled for a double as Joseph held at third base. Eovaldi retired the next two batters, but Jones collected his second hit in two innings and the Orioles led 4-3.
Davis and Núñez singled with one out in the third inning, and the first of four unearned runs scored when Jackie Bradley Jr. let Joseph’s fly ball bounce off his glove in a rare defensive blunder. Mullins followed with his RBI single, Joseph scored on Villar’s sacrifice bunt to the mound and Beckham brought home Mullins.
Speed and small ball from the Orioles. Don’t adjust your set.
There wasn’t much action for Mullins in center field in the early innings. He backed up Mancini on Benintendi’s line drive to left field in the top of the first inning and handled Holt’s single up the middle leading off the second.
Mullins backpedaled and caught Dan Butler’s fly ball at the edge of the track in the fourth, but he couldn’t run down Bradley’s drive to left-center field, the ball glancing off the tip of his glove. Holt scored, and a passed ball reduced the lead to 8-5.
Jones singled in his first three at-bats and stole his 86th base with the Orioles to pass Don Buford for sole possession of 10th place on the club’s all-time list. His first catch as a right fielder came with two outs in the fourth on Betts’ fly ball toward the line.
He covered a lot of ground on one play in the first inning and the ball wasn’t hit anywhere near him. Martinez lined a double into the left field corner and Jones ended up on second base with him. They spoke briefly and Jones headed back to right.
Xander Bogaerts followed with a three-run shot to left field, the 28th home run surrendered by Dylan Bundy this season - and not counting three against the Red Sox that were washed away in a rainout.
The Orioles have been outscored 94-55 in the first inning this season.
Bundy served up his 29th homer with Holt’s shot to right field on the first pitch of the sixth inning, the Orioles’ lead whittled down to 8-6. Jones did a nice job holding Butler to a single on a ball in the gap, and Bradley walked to force Bundy’s removal.
This is when it really turned bad.
Miguel Castro walked Betts to load the bases. Davis fielded Benintendi’s grounder, took a few steps toward the bag and opted for the force out at home. Mitch Moreland followed with a sacrifice fly to deep right-center field and Castro walked Martinez intentionally and Bogaerts unintentionally to tie the game.
Hart walked Devers to give Boston the lead and Holt followed with a two-run single on a ball that deflected off Beckham’s glove and trickled into shallow center field.
Bundy was charged with eight runs (seven earned) and eight hits with four walks in five-plus innings and his ERA rose to 4.70.
Hart put runners on the corners with no outs in the seventh as the game reached the three-hour mark, and Benintendi hit a three-run homer as Phillips stopped to watch from the bullpen, waited for a signal that didn’t come and began to warm again.
Phillips should have hidden.
Fortunately for all parties involved on the home side, this game mostly will be remembered for Mullins’ debut and Jones’ move to right field. As it should be in a rebuild.
Manager Buck Showalter on Mullins: “Oh yeah, that was fun to watch. I’m glad I had a seat for it. I spent a little time with Al Bumbry today. He was my player comp on Cedric the first time I saw Cedric, so I thought that was kind of apropos. Same kind of life to the body and effortless athleticism, so to speak.
“That’s fun to watch. You can imagine, his family made it. Try to take stuff like that in regardless of the score of the game.”
Showalter on whether Red Sox that good or pitching that bad: “I think it’s a combination of both. I thought the double play that we didn’t turn in the first inning for Dylan with Moreland running, that was one that really, I thought ... There were some other plays that I’d like to see us convert that are hard plays, but they’re plays you’ve got to make, especially against a team like that. Nine or 10 walks certainly don’t help. I think we had the same number of hits they did, but the walks are what you look back on as obviously the difference in the game.
“Guys that are swinging the bat well, you’ve got to attack them. They’re so used to people picking around the zone and you have to come in with a pitch. Dylan was trying to. His command just wouldn’t cooperate. That’s why the error column is such a fooler sometimes.
“Cedric almost caught that ball in left-center field. I thought Adam was really good tonight. It’s a real tribute to him to come out and get three hits and make Cedric’s path easy. Pretty impressive.”
Showalter on whether one player can energize a team: “Oh yeah. There are some deeper things in effect, not just that. Just a lot of things that you do that affect the karma around a club. I’ve said many times, you’ve all heard me, you walk through the club and you feel a certain energy there, and then you walk through and you know it’s not there. Sometimes it’s as much ...
“Yeah, that’s possible, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t pitch well. You walk 10 guys, I don’t care who you bring in there, right?”
Showalter on relievers: “I’m trying to stay with Dylan because we’ve got two games tomorrow and a lot of inexperienced pitchers, but that’s kind of what we’re going to ... We’re going to use those opportunities to try to see if some people can come forward and present themselves. They’ll get an opportunity.
“You watch Tanner’s second inning compared to his first inning. (Jimmy) Yacabonis is going to get an opportunity tomorrow, (Yefry) Ramírez is going to continue to get an opportunity. But you’re trying to keep them out of harm’s way and expose them as much as you can, but they’re going to need to take advantage of the opportunity along the way because it’s a very competitive business for all of us.”
Jones on letting Mullins lead the team out of the dugout: “The center fielder leads (the team) on the field, last time I checked.”
Mullins on setting debut hits record: “That’s a long time for a team to be around, and for me to be the first one, it’s just a privilege.”
Mullins on Jones letting him go first: “In all honesty, I thought he was messing with me. I was looking around, ‘So is the pitcher good? All right?’ And all the players were saying, ‘Hey go, you’re leading it.’ So I took their word for it. And went out on the field. And then I took the scenic route. The long way around.”