Harvey surrenders late home run in 7-6 loss (updated)

Cedric Mullins is starting in center field because Austin Hays has a fractured rib. He led off tonight’s game with a single and scored the first run.

DJ Stewart is playing right field because Anthony Santander has a strained oblique. He singled in the first inning to move Renato Núñez to third base.

Ryan Mountcastle is starting in left field because the Orioles no longer had any reason to hold back one of their top prospects. His single in the first scored Núñez to build on an early lead.

The Orioles had four hits before Mets starter Rick Porcello registered his second out. They had the same momentum that carried them to wins in their four previous games

They had the same look of a team that’s intent on crashing the postseason party. And then it vanished like their lead.

Starter Jorge López didn’t make it through the fifth inning. The Orioles collected 10 hits by the fourth and Mountcastle and Stewart reached base a combined 10 times, but Pete Alonso led off the bottom of the eighth by homering on Hunter Harvey’s initial pitch and the Mets won 7-6 at Citi Field.

Andrés Giménez hit a game-tying home run off Paul Fry in the sixth. The Orioles stranded two runners in the top of the eighth and Alonso ambushed Harvey.

Thumbnail image for Harvey-Looks-Up-White-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles failed to reach .500 and are 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees, who won tonight.

Hanser Alberto led off the ninth inning with a single off Edwin Díaz and moved to second base with one out, but he was stranded.

Wearing No. 21 to honor Roberto Clemente, López struck out six batters in 4 2/3 innings but also was charged with five runs. Jeff McNeil had an RBI single in the second and a two-run homer in the fourth that reduced the lead to 5-3. Michael Conforto hit a solo homer with two outs in the fifth and a walk to J.D. Davis brought manager Brandon Hyde out of the dugout.

Fry allowed back-to-back hits, with Robinson Canó’s single reducing the lead to 6-5.

Mullins, Stewart and Mountcastle accounted for six of the first 10 hits. Stewart led off the fifth inning with his fifth home run in four games, another upper deck shot - and his first against a left-hander in his major league career.

An infield single for Mountcastle in the fifth also gave him three hits and raised his average to .373. Another single in the eighth produced his first four-hit game and lifted his average to .383. He already has seven multi-hit games in the majors.

Stewart and Mountcastle reached base five times apiece.

Jared Hughes nailed Mountcastle in the left ribcage in the sixth after hitting Stewart. Rio Ruiz stepped to the plate to face Justin Wilson with the bases loaded and Conforto robbed him with a leaping catch on the warning track with his back to the infield.

Three runs would have scored on the play, but the Orioles couldn’t expand a 6-5 lead.

The web gem became more painful to the Orioles with Gimenez’s home run.

Mountcastle has totaled nine RBIs in his last five games. He lined a single into center field in the first after Mullins raced home on Núñez’s single.

Mullins singled again in the second inning and stole second base. Chance Sisco led off with a single and was thrown out trying for the double.

Stewart singled again in the third inning, beating the shift with a roller up the third base line. Mountcastle followed with another single. Two first-round draft picks with hot Septembers.

Two first-round picks scoring on Ruiz’s double for a 4-1 lead. Followed by Alberto’s single for a 5-1 lead, the Orioles’ 10th hit of the game.

The Mets put runners on the corners with one out in the second and McNeil lined an RBI single into right field. Alonso hustled to third base, but Giménez and Robinson Chirinos struck out. López kept his lead.

It shrank again in the fourth when McNeil homered in his fourth consecutive game after Alonso’s two-out single. Left-hander Chasen Shreve replaced Porcello and Stewart’s towering fly ball kept carrying.

Left-handed hitters were 0-for-20 against Shreve before the at-bat.

That 0-for-17 start for Stewart seems like a century ago.

The 2021 outfield composition could become a headache for Hyde, but in a good way.

Trey Mancini expects to be ready for opening day - he underwent his next-to-last chemotherapy treatment on Monday - and Mountcastle seems to have left locked down. Hays again is going to be projected as the center fielder if healthy, but does that leave Mullins as a reserve? And what about Santander, who was playing right field until straining his oblique and became a serious candidate for the Most Valuable Oriole award?

What about Stewart, who hasn’t stopped hitting since returning from the alternate camp site in Bowie? And the Orioles will reach a point where they introduce Yusniel Diaz to the majors.

Ryan McKenna is on the taxi squad for the road trip. Can’t forget about him.

Mancini could play first base, but Chris Davis still has two more years remaining on his contract.

Hyde will worry about it later. Or he’ll celebrate it.

Like the Orioles were doing with a winning streak that ended tonight.

Hyde on Harvey surrendering home run: “Hunter’s got a great fastball. He’s going to use it a lot. (Alonso) just didn’t miss it. He put a good swing on it and beat us.”

Hyde on whether he expected team would find way to win: “Yeah, I had confidence in the bullpen guys that I brought in. All of those guys have been throwing the ball very, very well. Paul Fry has had very few innings like that, especially in the last month. (Dillon) Tate threw the ball well, Tanner (Scott) threw the ball well, and then Hunter just gives up the ambush homer there.”

Hyde on López: “I thought Lopie had good stuff. I just thought he made a couple mistakes. The ball was flying to left.”

López (via translator Ramón Alarcón) on start: “I had a good plan. Unfortunately, I was not able to execute it today. Too many mistakes. Credit to their hitters. They did a good job against me. Very proud of my teammates. They really backed me up offensively. But unfortunately, I couldn’t hold the lead for us today. I made too many mistakes. With two strikes I wasn’t able to get that out pitch, but I felt well. Unfortunately, the results were not there tonight.”

López on being in pennant race: “It definitely is feeling like the postseason. I think we have a pretty good team. We look forward to playing every single day. We’re very excited for every single day. Unfortunately, today was not our best day, but it does feel like a playoff atmosphere here. We’re very close to playing .500 baseball. I think we can do that and hopefully we can continue to play well.”

López on how game turned poorly: “I think the key for them is they played well on both ends of the ball, defensively and offensively. They do have a really good team, a really good lineup from top to bottom, from the No. 1 hitter all the way down to the ninth hitter. And they just got the best of us. I think we may have a better team and we can compete.”

Mountcastle on how he’s feeling at plate: “I feel pretty good. I’m getting some good pitches to hit and laying off some more pitcher pitches. Yeah, I feel pretty good.”

Mountcastle on Stewart: “I don’t know if I’ve seen, really, anybody as hot as he is right now. It’s sort of insane. Last year at Triple-A he had a really good month and I remember thinking, ‘He’s hot.’ Right now he’s on a whole other level.”

Mountcastle on how rib feels: “It’s good, I’m all good. Sort of knocked the wind out of me, but that’s it. It’s all good.”

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