Cedric Mullins had a leadoff single last night in the bottom of the first inning and a one-out double in the fourth. The plate appearances that really get noticed. That excite a crowd and pop in a box score.
I’d rather focus on his walk to start the fourth.
Mullins got ahead in the count 2-0 and 3-1, took a cutter for a strike and laid off a changeup for his 14th walk of the season, ranking third on the club behind Adley Rutschman’s 17 and Gunnar Henderson’s 15.
It didn’t lead to a run. Mullins advanced on a balk and was stranded, and neither team scored until Austin Hays homered in the seventh in a 2-1 win over the Tigers. But Mullins kept the free passes flowing this season.
Rutschman, Henderson and Mullins began last night with a combined 45 walks, making them the leading teammate trio in baseball, per STATS. The Dodgers’ Max Muncy (17), Miguel Vargas (14) and Mookie Betts/Freddie Freeman (12) were next at 43, but you must choose between the last two to make this work.
The Yankees were second in the American League with Gleyber Torres (15), Aaron Judge (13) and Anthony Volpe (13) combining for 41.
Rutschman leads the AL despite going 0-for-4 last night in four plate appearances. No Orioles player has ranked first in the league since Eddie Murray drew 107 in 1984.
Murray appeared in all 162 games and finished fourth in Most Valuable Player voting after batting .306/.410/.509 with 26 doubles, three triples, 29 home runs and 110 RBIs. He struck out 87 times. His .410 OBP was tied for first in the majors with Tony Gwynn and Gary Matthews.
But at least the Orioles got Juan Bell for him in ’88.
Anyway, something else to keep an eye on, though we’re super early in the season: No teammates have finished one-two in walks in the American League since Boston’s Wade Boggs (105) and Dwight Evans (97) – future Orioles legend – in 1986.
Rutschman led the Orioles in walks last season with 65 despite playing in only 113 games. Anthony Santander was second with 55 in 152 games.
The eyes also are plus tools for Rutschman.
* Félix Bautista and Yennier Cano are imposing figures in the late innings based on their stuff and their size.
Bautista is now listed on Baseball-Reference.com as 6-feet-8 and 285 pounds, which seems much closer to the truth than last year’s figures that must have been tabulated when he was 12. We’re told that Cano is 6-feet-4 and 245 pounds, but I’m not convinced. He looks bigger.
The nickname “Twin Peaks” is gaining traction. Manager Brandon Hyde chuckled when he heard it yesterday.
“You look around the league, there’s some big men in back end of bullpens, and fortunately we have a couple of them,” he said.
“They both have such different skill sets. Félix is 101 with a 92-mph split, and Cano is a sinkerballer. Did a great job, obviously, on the trip and we’re super happy that he’s pitching with the confidence that he’s pitching in and the spots that he’s pitching in.
“Yeah, it’s fun to bring in guys with huge stuff coming out of the ‘pen and take your chances with them.”
Bautista suffered his second blown save last night, coming within a strike of nailing down a 1-0 win. Javier Báez lined a single into left field to plate Akil Baddoo and end the club’s scoreless innings streak at 34.
“It’s not going to be the last run that Félix Bautista gives up this year. He’s going to give up runs and those things happen,” Hyde said.
“Give them credit. Baddoo got a single to go through and Javy hitting one of the toughest pitchers in the league. He just hung a split there and that’s going to happen.”
Baddoo moved into scoring position by stealing second base after his pinch-hit single. Báez had an easy swipe before Kerry Carpenter flied out.
“He’s just a little bit slow to the plate,” Hyde said of Bautista. “That’s a big man with kind of a long arm swing, and there’s been a lot of really, really good closers that you can get jumps on and can run on. He’s still early in his career, obviously, second year. He’s going to continue to improve in that area. But give them credit for taking the base and Javy hitting a hanging split there. A huge hit.”
* Keeping track of baseball’s new rules has become its own job.
Clubs are allowed to only carry a catcher on the taxi squad this season, with no additional pitchers. Anthony Bemboom and Mark Kolozsvary have made trips with the Orioles.
Twin tweaks to the rules involve how a catcher also can be in the home clubhouse without joining the active roster, which explains why Kolozsvary has a locker at Camden Yards this weekend.
The Orioles will rotate catchers from Triple-A Norfolk this season. The Tides also are carrying Maverick Handley.
Bringing one of them to the majors lessens the crowd, and it also enables them to sit in on meetings and gain knowledge that could prove valuable later.
* As a follow to Thursday’s news about Norfolk pitcher Spenser Watkins going on the seven-day injured list, the laceration on the fourth finger on his right hand is the reason why he came out of Wednesday’s start after only three innings and 55 pitches.
I wondered if the Orioles wanted to shorten him a bit because he hadn’t pitched since April 8, but then we were told about the injury, which occurred during the game.
Watkins needed stitches to close the wound. It doesn’t sound serious.
* Single-A Delmarva shortstop Jackson Holliday hit his first two home runs last night while going 3-for-6 with four RBIs in a 16-4 win in Fredericksburg.
The kid is batting .404 with a 1.214 OPS for the Shorebirds. Enjoy him in Salisbury while you can.
It's early but the Orioles seem to have made the right call with Holliday as the first overall pick in last year's draft.
* Major league umpires are offering more than 400 items, including autographed sports memorabilia and unique fan experiences, during the 15th Annual UMPS CARE Charities Online Auction.
MLB.com is hosting the auction, which went live yesterday and closes May 1 at 10 p.m.
A complete list of auction items can be found at mlb.com/UmpsCare.
Included among the memorabilia and opportunities are four tickets to this year’s All-Star Game and Home Run Derby in Seattle, an archives tour of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown – which includes a round of golf and dinner – baseballs signed by Kyle Stowers, Joey Votto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien and Darryl Strawberry, a baseball autographed by tennis legend and Dodgers minority owner Billie Jean King, a Charlie Sheen-signed baseball, a Carlos Correa-signed game-used bat, a Ronald Acuña Jr. signed photo, MLB specialty caps, and a chance to have lunch with an umpire.
Check whether he cleans his plate.