The first inning tonight lasted 45 minutes. The teams combined for 11 runs, 19 batters and three errors. The starting pitchers threw a combined 90 pitches.
And then it got weird.
Former Orioles farmhand Mike Yastrzemski marked his first game at Camden Yards with his first major league triple and home run through two innings. Dwight Smith Jr. hit his first career grand slam in a six-run first and Trey Mancini launched a tie-breaking two-run shot in the second after Jonathan Villar stole two bases to get within 90 feet of the plate.
Seemed like a lot of trouble just to jog home.
Seemed like a game that would bleed into Saturday morning.
Andrew Cashner slowed the madness with three scoreless innings, Renato Núñez hit a 444-foot home run in the seventh to extend the lead and the bullpen was solid in a 9-6 victory over the Giants before an announced crowd of 17,545.
The Orioles are 18-39 overall and 8-21 at home. The Giants, making their first stop in Baltimore since 2004, have lost eight of their last nine.
Paul Fry recorded four outs and Mychal Givens stranded an inherited runner in the seventh by striking out Evan Longoria on a changeup and Brandon Crawford on a 96 mph fastball. Givens came back out for the eighth, retired Kevin Pillar on a fly ball and passed the baton to Richard Bleier.
Bleier handled the last five outs to give Orioles relievers four scoreless innings. The Giants didn’t have a hit after the third inning until Brandon Belt’s two-out single in the ninth. Also weird.
Cashner threw 46 pitches in the first while falling behind 5-0, the damage including five hits and two walks. Giants left-hander Drew Pomeranz didn’t make it out of the second, with Mancini’s home run sending him back to the clubhouse with one out and the Orioles leading 8-6.
It seemed improbable earlier in the night, but Cashner qualified for the win by getting through the fifth inning at a season-high 109 pitches. He threw only 10 in the third and stranded a runner in the fourth and fifth while Fry warmed in the bullpen.
“He was one hitter from being out of the game,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Just a real gutty performance. He gave up a run in the second, also. To be able to go five for us, that was absolutely enormous, but really gutty after throwing, what, 46 in the first? To be able to last through five innings, that’s a veteran guy. He’s got great makeup, a super tough guy.
“It’s been a rough couple of months. We’ve had so many tough losses. For us to be able to come back and take a serious blow in the top of the first, to stay with it and stay in the game and continue to take good at-bats and stay together in the dugout, I thought it was just awesome.
“We played really good defense tonight. Bullpen was putting up zeroes. Phenomenal.”
Cashner was charged with six runs and eight hits with five walks. He failed to strike out a batter for the first time since Sept. 5, 2018 in Seattle, but he picked up his sixth win.
“It was probably one of my worst starts of my career,” he said. “I never really got in a groove, I felt like, with anything. I was yanking my fastball, breaking ball was short, changeup was terrible. But it’s just one of those things, I just kept telling myself to get through the fifth, try to save the bullpen as much as I can no matter how many runs you give up. It’s just try to get to the fifth.
“I knew my pitch count was high, I just didn’t know how high it was. But it’s just one of those things, you just keep trying to execute and try to get the hitter out, regardless of how many pitches you get to. Depending on how many pitches your manager lets you go. It’s kind of out of your control. I was just trying to attack them and get ahead and put them away.”
The six runs in the first are the most scored by the Orioles in an inning this season. Cashner had allowed five in the first over his 11 starts before matching the total tonight.
According to STATS, this is the first time that the Orioles and their opponent scored five or more runs each in the first inning since the franchise relocated to Baltimore in 1954.
Núñez and Pedro Severino had RBI singles before Smith delivered the Orioles’ second slam of the year with a 442-foot shot, the other coming from Villar. Smith was hitless in his last 13 at-bats and 4-for-26 since May 20.
Hyde lowered Smith, whose father was at the ballpark, to eighth in the order.
“Just because it’s off a lefty and I just think Smitty’s going through a time of the season where you’re not swinging the bat at your best,” Hyde said before the game.
“He’s struggling a little bit, but he lined out right at the pitcher, he took some good at-bats the other day. So I think that he’s going to come out of it. It’s just part of the baseball season where you’re not going to be at your best all the time all the way through 162 games, and right now he’s trying to find himself a little bit. But I’m looking forward to him getting out of it soon.”
Found him. And it only took one inning.
“I was glad to give my team the lead,” Smith said. “With that first inning, they hit us in the mouth pretty good. Just as long as we answered with something, so for us to take the lead there was huge. I was happy we got the lead early.
“I just hit wherever I’m hitting. It doesn’t really matter to me. He writes the lineup and I just play my game. Everybody has to do their part. That’s all I was doing.”
While his father celebrated in the stands with fist pumps and some pacing.
“I feel like every time he’s around I do something. I have to do something for my family whenever they’re in town. He’s a good luck charm,” Smith said.
“He was acting like he was at a football game tonight. It was pretty funny to watch on the big screen tonight.”
Yastrzemski’s home run to right field on an 89 mph fastball tied the game in the second before Mancini hit his 11th of the season. The Giants ranked 28th in the majors with only 50 homers. The Orioles continue to lead in homers allowed with 118.
Tyler Herb, the pitcher acquired for Yastrzemski, allowed only an unearned run over seven innings tonight at Triple-A Norfolk.
Núñez’s 14th home run of the season, with an exit velocity of 110.4 mph per Statcast, upped the lead to 9-6. Núñez has homered in six of the last nine games.
Best win of the year?
“It’s up there from a character standpoint,” Hyde said. “I just love how our starter battled as long as he could go and then our bullpen came in and put up zeroes after. That was just a great pitching performance.
“I love how we came back. We scrap offensively. We have tough nights, but our guys bring it on a nightly basis. I just love the way they didn’t play the score, they played for themselves.”
“I wouldn’t say the best win of the year,” Cashner said. “I think we’ve played some teams really good. I would say it’s probably the best comeback win of the year.”
Note: Hunter Harvey threw a career-high 7 1/3 innings tonight at Double-A Bowie and allowed only one earned run. His previous high was seven innings on May 12, 2014 with Single-A Delmarva. The Shorebirds’ lineup included Mancini and Yastrzemski.
Mark Trumbo was 2-for-4 with a strikeout and run scored.