Suárez makes impressive debut, Mullins hits walk-off home run in 4-2 win (updated)

Albert Suárez walked into a mostly empty Orioles clubhouse this morning with a smile on his face and a determination to work the room.

Suárez approached Dean Kremer, who stood up and hugged him. Yennier Cano and Ryan O’Hearn came over to embrace him. He moved on to Grayson Rodriguez and Craig Kimbrel, cut across to the other side and made a direct path toward Colton Cowser, who paused his conversation with a broadcaster.

That was everyone. Nothing left to do except go back to his own locker and prep for his first major league game in seven years.

These guys knew him from spring training but were unsure after he was reassigned in late March if they’d interact again except maybe a rehab assignment. They’d be coming to him. That was the likeliest scenario on April 17.

The Orioles selected Suárez’s contract, putting him on the 40-man roster, and watched him earn the right to stick around. He unpacked his bags and locked up the Twins, tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings and celebrating Cedric Mullins' first career walk-off home run in a 4-2 victory before an announced crowd of 15,860 at Camden Yards.

Anthony Santander hit a game-tying home run into the bullpen off left-hander Steven Okert in the seventh, Mullins deposited a 1-2 changeup from Griffin Jax onto the flag court in right in the ninth, and the sweep improved the Orioles’ record to 12-6 with an off-day approaching. They also posted their eighth comeback win.

Ryan Mountcastle singled with one out and Mullins sent everyone home in regulation while also extending his hitting streak to nine games. And the Orioles had their fifth straight game with three or more homers, the first time since August 1996. The club record is six in May 1987.

"Super cool," Mullins said of his heroic moment, which brought the new hydration station onto the field. "Definitely something that's hard to accomplish, but wasn't trying to do too much right there. Mounty got us going with a single and I was trying to follow it up with another single, and I was able to get a pitch that I could handle and put it over."

Another reminder of what Mullins can do when he isn't trying to play through an injury.

"Yeah, 100 percent," he said. "I think that's kind of the focus of keeping the body healthy throughout the year. I've had my challenges but I know I can go pretty good when I'm healthy."

"For me, this is Cedric Mullins," said manager Brandon Hyde. "He drives runs in, he causes chaos on the bases. He plays a Gold Glove center field. He's just a huge igniter for our offense."

Gunnar Henderson hit his sixth home run, third in three days and fourth of his career leading off the first inning. He’s homered in three consecutive games for the second time. He also did it June 10-13, 2023.

Pablo López retired 18 of the next 19 batters, with Jordan Westburg reaching on an infield hit leading off the third. Austin Martin raced into left-center field and made a diving catch to rob Adley Rutschman and end the sixth.

Martin tied the game in the seventh with a run-scoring single off Jacob Webb, who inherited a runner from Danny Coulombe. Manuel Margot drew a walk and was running on the pitch when Martin lined a ball into left-center field. Martin advanced to second base on the throw and scored with two outs on Kyle Farmer’s single.

Suárez hadn’t pitched in the majors since Sept. 26, 2017 with the Giants in Arizona. Former Orioles catcher Nick Hundley was behind the plate. He hadn’t started since Sept. 23, 2016 in San Diego. The last of his three wins was June 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh.

He’d settle for the no-decision today, with little doubt that he exceeded expectations after arriving with a 5.87 ERA in Triple-A.

"He was nothing short of amazing," Mullins said. "He came out there and handled his business very professional. I love what I saw.

"It takes a lot of perseverance, it takes a lot of commitment, dedication to do what he did today."

"Really happy right now, especially for the win," Suárez said. "For me, it's good to be back in the league and do a good job."

It was so good that manager Hyde said, "I can see him getting more starts."

"I just want to give credit to our pro scouting department, front office," Hyde said. "That's an amazing sign right there. Helped us win a major league baseball game and looks outstanding. To go out and find someone like that who's (34) and hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2017 and have that kind of performance. Did more than we asked him to do. Think he threw 4 1/3 his last time out and he goes out and gets into the sixth inning against a major league baseball team, just a credit to everybody there, especially him."

Coulombe stranded a runner on first base with two outs in the sixth to seal Suárez’s line. The 34-year-old right-hander allowed three hits, walked none, struck out four and threw a wild pitch. Hyde removed him at 75 pitches, 50 strikes, with left-handed hitting Alex Kirilloff on deck.

"I worked hard for it," Suárez said of his return. "I think when you work hard and you have faith in something, it happens."

The crowd gave him a standing ovation as he left the mound for the last time. He didn't react but appreciated the gesture.

"Love it, great," he said.

"I saw (Hyde) coming out and I was like, OK, I did my job, and now just leave it to the bullpen to do their job, and that's how we got a win."

Suárez's 5 2/3 scoreless innings were the most by an Orioles pitcher in his team debut since Jeremy Hellickson tossed seven on Aug. 2, 2017 against the Royals. Did he feel like a rookie again?

"I think I enjoyed this more than the first time I got called up," he said. "It's amazing for me and a good feeling to be here."

“He did awesome,” Mountcastle said. “Looked great in spring, too, and super happy for him to come up here and do what he did today. You couldn’t tell if he had any (nerves). He was throwing strikes and getting people out. Was a lot of fun to watch.”

"I know he's very thankful to be back in the big leagues," Hyde said. "He told the group that. But we saw in spring training how mature he is. He's a grown man. ... To go out and get a call late last night that you're starting against a big league team tomorrow, I don't know if he slept last night at all. But just a really cool story."

Suárez said he got eight hours sleep despite the hectic night.

"I was ready for today," he said, smiling.

The first pitch was a strike to Edouard Julien, who fanned on a 95.7 mph fastball. Suárez retired the side on nine pitches, all fastballs, with seven strikes.

Staying fastball-heavy, Suárez stranded José Miranda in the second after a one-out double and retired the side in order in the third, getting strikeouts with a curveball and 97.2 mph fastball. Twenty-seven of his 39 pitches to that point were strikes. Pounding the zone like he did in spring training.

Kirilloff doubled with two outs in the fourth and Miranda popped up in foul territory. Suárez’s fastball touched 97 mph again on Byron Buxton’s strikeout. Willi Castro reached on a bloop single into left field with two outs in the fifth – only 71.3 mph off the bat – and O’Hearn ran down Farmer’s fly ball toward the line and made a leaping catch.

Ryan Jeffers was hit by a pitch with one out in the sixth and with Coulombe warming. Suárez threw a wild pitch, fielded Buxton’s bouncer and threw out Jeffers at third base.

"We were just focused on attacking the hitter," Suárez said. "That went well, so that's what got me good results."

Keegan Akin stranded an inherited runner in the seventh. Cano walked a batter and struck out two in the eighth. Kimbrel retired the side in order in the ninth and hasn’t allowed a run in his last seven appearances.

Jackson Holliday went 0-for-3 and struck out twice, and he’s 1-for-25 with 14 strikeouts to start his major league career. He flied to the right field warning track, 330 feet away, in the third inning to elicit a brief roar from the crowd.

The offense as a whole was sluggish for most of the game but came alive when needed, allowing the Orioles to win their seventh game in a row against the Twins, tied for their longest active streak against an opponent.

"One through nine, we've got a really good lineup each and every day," Mountcastle said. "Have the ability to hit the ball out of the park, too. A lot of fun to be a part of and watch."

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