Cedric Mullins clubbed his first home run in Baltimore tonight and DJ Stewart picked up his first major league hit and later stole his first base. Two of the potential rebuilding blocks contributing to a lead that carried into the seventh inning.
It was squandered in stunning fashion, with the Jays scoring four unearned runs for a 6-4 win before an announced crowd of 9,096 that handed the Orioles a club-record 108th loss.
The milestone was achieved in appropriate fashion. Defense has been crushing this team all season and its ugly head reared again in the seventh.
Dylan Bundy exited the game after loading the bases with two outs, his walk to No. 9 hitter Reese McGuire coming after the Orioles couldn’t turn a double play on Devon Travis’ grounder to third baseman Steve Wilkerson.
Returning to the lineup from a hamstring injury, Wilkerson fielded a ground ball from pinch-hitter Teoscar Hernández and bounced his throw past Trey Mancini to let two runs score and tie the game. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled off Paul Fry and the Jays led 6-4.
Bundy was saddled with five runs, but only two earned to give him back-to-back quality starts. The 6 2/3 innings marked his longest outing since July 29 and his streak of surrendering home runs ended at 12 games.
A few consolation prizes to take home.
The series concludes tonight with the Orioles still needing to confirm a starter. Yefry Ramírez wasn’t used in relief and is a candidate, though he’d be working on three days’ rest after throwing 83 pitches on Saturday. He could be shortened in another bullpen game, whether he starts or backs up someone like rookie Josh Rogers.
Adam Jones sat at his locker this afternoon, still no batting practice due to the weather, and pondered whether 107 losses resonate with the younger players who parachuted into a disastrous season.
“That’s a good point,” he said. “For me, guys who have been here start to finish, yeah, it’s definitely on us. A lot of the new guys coming in here, they’re getting an opportunity to play and an opportunity to showcase, so they don’t really worry about the win-loss record. Just worry about the opportunity to showcase your talents at this level.
“It’s obviously going to go down in Orioles history and in regular history, but at the same time, you have a losing season, you have a losing season. If we had 95 losses it would still be a disappointing year. It won’t overshadow all the great moments I’ve had here.
“Tough one. Sometimes you’ve got to take them on the chin and this one was like getting hit by (Mike) Tyson in ‘93. Yeah, Tyson in ‘93. That’s what this season felt like. But you get back up after you’re woozy and continue to fight because at the end of the day we’re still extremely lucky to have such a wonderful job. Some not for long (laughs), but still we get to play major league baseball.
“We’re the cream of the crop, even though sometimes the crop doesn’t have so much cream. The Macho Man always said the cream rises to the top and sometimes the cream ain’t rising. The crop ain’t rising. And this year there’s a drought.”
The frustration is bubbling closer to the surface and spilling over in a few instances, but Jones won’t question the effort or the mental state of the team.
“It’s tough, but what made it the best part of this year and what nobody gets to see is that the guys in here came in with a positive attitude,” he said. “Guys struggling, guys not having years they’re accustomed to, and they still came in here every day with a positive attitude, ready to get better, ready to compete.
“As a professional you appreciate that more because you know getting here is damn near impossible, but the result also is hard to come by because someone else is trying to get that result. But every single day the atmosphere in this clubhouse has not felt like we’ve lost as much as we have, so I take the positive out of it because there are a lot of days we came back into the clubhouse listening to sad songs.”
Mullins spun a happy tune with his fourth home run of the season and first at Camden Yards, carrying a 96 mph fastball from Aaron Sanchez into the center field seats. The Orioles led 1-0 and were outscored 116-69 in the first inning this year.
Jones singled with one out and was thrown out trying to steal, making him 7-for-8 this season. He reached on an infield hit in the fifth.
Mancini led off the fourth with a triple, diving into the bag, and Chris Davis was hit on the foot. Mancini scored on Breyvic Valera’s fly ball to medium center field, with the out call overturned, and Stewart followed by lining a single into right field.
We said it wouldn’t get weird, but it did.
Stewart advanced on a throwing error by right fielder Billy McKinney and was awarded home plate on Sanche’z throwing error - all on the same play. Two more runs giving the Orioles a 4-0 lead.
According to STATS, Stewart is the first Oriole to produce a “Little League home run” since Seth Smith on April 26, 2017 against the Rays and the fifth in club history. The last player to earn his first major league hit with one was the Phillies’ Juan Samuel on Aug. 24, 1983 in San Francisco.
Stewart was hitless in 15 plate appearances before circling the bases in snippets.
Back-to-back doubles by Aledmys Díaz and Dwight Smith Jr. in the top of the fifth ended Bundy’s shutout bid and the Jays cut the lead to 4-2 in the sixth on Justin Smoak’s RBI grounder.
Reliever Jake Petricka hit Stewart on the left foot in the sixth inning, causing the rookie to take a hard tumble. But Stewart stayed in the game and swiped second base. He also walked in the second inning.
Bundy threw nine pitches in the first inning, eight in the third and 11 in the fourth. He was through the sixth at 73.
The Orioles needed Bundy to claw his way into the later innings with three injured starters coming out of the rotation and Wednesday’s assignment likely a timeshare. They also needed the defense to step up and again were disappointed.
Sad songs say so much.
Update: The Orioles will start Jimmy Yacabonis Wednesday night.
Stewart on if this is how he imagined first hit: “No, not at all. You run through things many times in your head about how you think it’s going to go, but that’s the great thing about this game. You never know what it will bring you and I’m just happy I got it done.”
Stewart on whether the wait weighed on him: “Not really. I was actually talking to Josh Rogers in the dugout about it and the wait wasn’t really on me for it because I felt good in the box every at-bat pretty much. It’s a little bit different if you’re not getting hits and feeling really, really bad, but I felt comfortable the entire time. I just haven’t been able to find the hole and definitely I was able to tonight.”
Stewart on how the trip around the bases unfolded: “It was run, stop, run, stop. Hey, you’re safe at home, go home. So, I didn’t really get to process the fact that I just got my first major league hit. It was just kind of going so fast the way the play developed. But it’s honestly, kind of everything come full circle because when I went to Florida State I wore the No. 8 because of Devon Travis. He’s actually with Toronto now. I was hoping to play with him but he actually signed after his junior year.
“He got an offer that he couldn’t turn down. So, we had this whole plan of playing just one year together, but he actually signed, so when he left I asked him if I could wear No. 8. So, I’ve never been on the field with him until tonight, and for me to get that first hit was something special.
Bundy on watching seventh inning meltdown: “Yeah, it’s tough. It’s baseball. You never know what can happen and you never know what will happen until you get the third out.”
Bundy on outing: “I’m more disappointed just in that last walk I had. I thought I had that pitch there, and it was a tad up. But I wouldn’t change a thing about the outing. I thought me and Caleb (Joseph) had a good game plan.”
Bundy on wrapping head around 108 losses: “The season ain’t over yet, so I haven’t really wrapped my head around it yet. Haven’t really thought about it too much. Just try to show up to work every day and get better.”
Showalter on Bundy and defense: “Dylan pitched real well. That was unfortunate. In a time of need, that really set us up for tomorrow, going into the off-day and a challenging road trip. We never go into something assuming something. Dylan pitched really well, had command of the off-speed pitch. We’d be sitting here talking about him as the first question, obviously.
“Wilky’s better than that. He made a great play there at the end, a tough play. He showed arm strength and accuracy. He’s been off for a while. He’ll be better. He’s a guy that will show you better things as we go forward. Tough day for him.”
Showalter on whether this loss is different than others: “Of course not, of course not. No, not at all. You try to learn from them and attack again the next day things that you need to get better at and assume, not assume ...
Our coaches and everybody acts like every one of these guys is going to be ... You approach it like an impactful potential big league player and some things you’re seeing now that might be negative, a couple of years from now, you might look at it completely different, so I’ve seen it many times. I’m trying to keep that in mind.”
Showalter when asked about significance of 108th loss: “I heard it yesterday and today. What else is there to talk about? It was as difficult as it was yesterday. Same thing. I look at it ... nothing has changed since yesterday.
“We’ll look back on it and hopefully learn from a lot of things and build from just like we did last time, not to the level of losses you’re talking about, but we learned a lot about things and not to make those same mistakes. I hope that happens again.”