O's Cedric Mullins gets off to good start at the plate

The Orioles series with the Twins this week at Camden Yards was a reminder of the 2021 season when Cedric Mullins produced the only 30-30 season (doubles and homers) in O’s history and finished ninth in the MVP voting.

That player may still be in there somewhere, whether he is flying across the outfield one night to make his Superman-like diving catch or hitting a walk-off homer two days later.

Mullins can make impactful plays on offense and defense and even last year, a year he produced just a league-average OPS of .721 and dealt with groin injuries, we saw examples of that.

Last Aug. 13 at Seattle, in an important series between two playoff contending teams, Mullins became the first player to both rob and hit a home run in the ninth inning or later of the same game over the last 10 seasons. And according to ESPN Stats & Info, that game marked his first career go-ahead homer in extra innings.

Also last year, during what was for him a down year, he hit for the cycle, had a five-hit game and hit two grand slams.

After Friday’s series opener at Kansas City, Mullins is batting .258/.304/.532/.837. His bat has certainly packed a punch and heading into this series, his five homers ranked second on the team while his 15 RBIs rated tied for first. And his OPS plus was 151. His current OPS is his best since his .878 during the 30-30 year.

During spring training, Mullins talked about how motivated he was to remind us of that ’21 season. He felt that being healthy now, he was going to remind us of that player this year.

“100 percent," he said. "I’m sure there are plenty of people that wouldn’t believe I did that (30-30) in the first place. So, kind of take that, and for people who don’t think I can do it again, pretty sure they didn’t think I could the first time. That is what it is. I know I have the ability to do it and I know I have the ability to do it again."

He realized that after back-to-back seasons of an OPS of .721, that he has some doubters out there.

“I am not going to be everyone’s favorite player. It’s really as simple as that," he stated. "I know the people that have my back – family, friends, those are the people I focus on in terms of building up my confidence and just understanding the process. Day in and day out have a goal in mind, having the focus of what a full season looks like. And being able to look up at the end to say, ‘I put together a really good year.’"

He told me during spring training that he needed to pull the ball less and spray it around the field more. He’s doing it. His pull rate which was 46.8 percent last year is down to 39.5. He seems to be really focusing on an up-the-middle approach, raising his percentage of hitting the ball in the middle of the field from 34.8 percent last year to 44.2 now. And his hard-hit rate of 38.6 percent is his best since the 30-30 year.

Last night, with a seventh-inning single, Mullins went 1-for-4 and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. During the run, he is batting .353 (12-for-34) with three homers, eight RBIs, 10 runs and an OPS of 1.057.

O's lose series opener: Lefty Keegan Akin gave up two inherited runners and three of his own runs last night and Dillon Tate gave up a three-run homer as the Orioles lost 9-4 at Kansas City.

It was the Orioles' second loss this season in a series-opening game. They fall to 12-7 and are now 1.5 games behind the division-leading Yankees.

The O's bullpen has been scored on in eight straight games and has an ERA of 6.51 in that span. O's pitchers have allowed 44 runs in the last seven games, yielding nine runs or more three times in that span.

Right-hander Corbin Burnes (2-0, 2.28 ERA) will make his fifth start tonight and try to pitch the Orioles to a win in Kansas City. The team is 4-0 in his starts. 





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