Mancini homer can’t cover for lost lead in 6-4 loss

A major league debut played in an empty ballpark last summer felt strange to Orioles left-hander Bruce Zimmermann. An occasion to celebrate, but without a guest list.

Tonight’s start was like a party with family and friends. Dozens of them. The Orioles could have moved the game to his parents’ backyard. Either way, there’s good barbeque.

The Baltimore native and Loyola Blakefield graduate received a huge ovation upon his introduction and again after striking out Red Sox cleanup hitter Christian Vázquez in the first inning. He was victimized a batter later by Rafael Devers’ RBI single and a poorly executed rundown that allowed Xander Bogaerts to race home from second base before the tag.

Trey Mancini homered for the first time since Sept. 28, 2019 and went back-to-back with Anthony Santander, who tied the game. All of this in one inning.

A routine night wasn’t in the cards.

Neither was a win.

The Orioles scored twice against Adam Ottavino in the bottom of the eighth inning, the go-ahead run created by Freddy Galvis’ two-strike, opposite-field single, but César Valdez blew the save in the ninth. and the Red Sox moved ahead for good in the 10th in a 6-4 victory before an announced crowd of 9,307 at Camden Yards.

Dillon Tate inherited Michael Chavis, who joined the roster today as J.D. Martinez’s replacement and scored on Kiké Hernández’s fly ball to deep center and a wild pitch. Tate walked two batters, Wade LeBlanc replaced him and Vázquez grounded an RBI single into left field.

Ryan McKenna stood on second base in the bottom of the 10th and moved up one spot because the Red Sox were indifferent to it.

Ryan Mountcastle led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a single and raced to third base on DJ Stewart’s double. Mountcastle, running on contact, beat Bobby Dalbec’s throw home on Maikel Franco’s chopper to tie the game. Rio Ruiz flied to shallow left, but Galvis collected only his fourth hit in 30 at-bats.

Valdez retired the first batter he faced, but he gave up back-to-back singles into right field and Marwin Gonzalez scored the tying run on Dalbec’s grounder to Galvis, who made a sliding backhanded stop and could only get the force.

“César Valdez has been so good for us and he did what he usually does, and that’s get a lot of ground balls, and they found the holes on a couple of them and that’s going to happen,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

Thumbnail image for Mancini-Running-Orange-ST-sidebar.jpgMancini batted with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning and nearly busted open the game with a hard shot down the line, but Devers made the backhanded stop behind the bag and long throw for the out.

Zimmermann allowed three runs and seven hits over six innings, with one walk and four strikeouts. Devers crushed a 1-2 changeup with the bases empty and two outs in the sixth, sending it 435 feet and breaking a 2-2 tie.

The strikeouts were bagged with his slider, changeup, fastball and curveball.

Zimmermann left about a dozen tickets because of the limited supply, but he also estimated that at least 50 friends were in the stands. He picked up bagels from THB in Canton in the morning and hung out in the hotel until arriving at the ballpark, beating down the nerves before trying to conquer the Red Sox.

“Pretty much everything I could have imagined,” Zimmermann said. “It was extremely special. I had all my siblings here and their spouses behind home plate and then probably three or four pockets of friends, guys I know pretty close and grew up with, played baseball with growing up and went to high school with. Pretty much you name it, they were out there supporting me, so I definitely heard them throughout the night, while I was warming up. It was very special and definitely one I’ll remember.

“All in all, it was an outpouring of support that a hometown kid can only dream of having at the ballpark behind him. It was just incredibly special to hear that and to hear the crowd call my name in the first inning when I got announced and everything, it was pretty awesome.”

Both of Zimmermann’s starts have come against the Red Sox, lasted six innings and been defined as quality. He threw 85 pitches tonight, 61 for strikes.

“That’s impressive, pitching against the same team in a week and being a young pitcher, a good lineup, guys that have had pretty good careers up to that point, a lot of guys in that lineup, and keeping guys off-balance and giving up two there in the first,” Hyde said.

“Really, we should have given up one. And then giving us six really good innings and keeping us in the game. That was an excellent job of pitching.”

The Devers RBI in the first came after Hernández’s single on a ball that deflected off Franco’s glove and Bogaerts’ one-out walk. Catcher Chance Sisco appeared to pick off Devers, but the 2-3-4-3-6 caught stealing gave Bogaerts ample time to cross the plate. Mancini turned and cocked his arm, but knew it was too late and resumed the chase.

Not how it’s executed in those spring training drills on the back fields.

Mancini made up for it in a huge way, driving Garrett Richards’ first pitch to him, a 95.4 mph fastball, 427 feet to right-center field with an exit velocity of 111.9 mph, per Statcast. His last home run came against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, his 35th of the season, and he entered tonight 5-for-28 with 11 strikeouts.

“Our dugout exploded when he hit that homer in the first inning,” Hyde said. “It seemed like there was a lot of relief for Trey coming into the dugout after that.”

Santander also saw one pitch, an 81-mph curveball, and carried it in the same general direction for a 2-2 tie.

“It was electric,” Zimmermann said.

Richards faced the Orioles in the third game of the season and allowed six runs in two innings. He was being generous again early tonight to an offense that otherwise is sputtering.

The Red Sox went to their bullpen after Richards held the Orioles to those two runs and three hits over five innings.

Hernández appeared to hit a two-run homer off Zimmermann in the fifth inning, but Cedric Mullins raced to the fence, reached to the top and made the catch without breaking contact with the track. Hernández turned to watch the replay on the big screen as he walked to the dugout.

Mullins singled and stole a base in the fifth, extending his hitting streak to 12 games dating back to last September, but Richards retired Mancini and Santander on bouncers to the left side of the infield.

Mullins doubled with one out in the seventh, his 15th hit in eight games. Ottavino entered the game, struck out Mancini and retired Santander on a bouncer.

Devers apparently forgot the number of outs in the second, circling away from second base and starting toward the dugout rather than tagging Ruiz on a stolen base attempt while Galvis struck out. Sisco grounded out to end the inning, but it was another wacky moment.

Ruiz now has four stolen bases in 260 major league games.

He registered the final out in the top of the fourth on Christian Arroyo’s double into the left field corner, taking Stewart’s throw and firing home, where Sisco had lots of time to apply the tag on Gonzalez.

Galvis also struck out to end the sixth, giving him 12 in 29 at-bats, but his second RBI as an Oriole was on the horizon.

Given a chance to play hero again with two outs in the 10th, Galvis notched his 13th strikeout.

Adam Plutko replaced Zimmermann and had a walk and strikeout in a scoreless seventh. He hasn’t allowed a run in 6 1/3 innings.

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