Mullins’ sacrifice fly in 10th bails out Valdez in 4-3 win (updated)

Starting pitcher Jorge López came out of the dugout this afternoon and hopped across the first base line before teammates followed him onto the field. Manager Brandon Hyde was more interested in whether they could get on base.

It wasn’t the only time they trailed, but it’s where you finish that counts.

César Valdez was a strike away from stranding two runners after walks and notching his sixth save - though plate umpire Rob Drake was squeezing him - but Gleyber Torres lined an automatic double to left-center field to tie the game 3-3, with a fortuitous hop preventing the Yankees from taking the lead.

With a light rain falling in the bottom of the 10th, Pat Valaika laid down a sacrifice bunt and Cedric Mullins flied to left-center field off Jonathan Loaisiga to score Ramón Urias and give the Orioles a 4-3 win before an announced crowd of 7,738 at Camden Yards.

The play was reviewed and the call stood.

Left-hander Tanner Scott retired the first two batters he faced in the top of the 10th, issued an intentional walk to Gary Sánchez and struck out Mike Ford.

Mullins drew a leadoff walk against Darren O’Day in the eighth inning and raced home on Austin Hays’ double to left-center field, and the Orioles were primed to salvage a split of the four-game series.

Hays reached third base on a throwing error with no outs and didn’t score, which set up the game-tying rally in the ninth that forced Valdez to throw 29 pitches.

“Austin creates action,” Hyde said, perhaps inadvertantly creating a T-shirt idea. “He’s got a chance to hit a homer, he’s got a chance to go in the gap like he did. I think he’s going to improve as a hitter. He stays on the ball well. I put him there (second) to try to create some action after Cedric and it worked out well today.”

Paul Fry walked Gio Urshela leading off the eighth and retired the next three batters, striking out pinch-hitter Aaron Judge on three pitches to maintain the tie.

Adam Plutko almost escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fifth inning to preserve a shutout bid, but Rougned Odor singled into right field to score two runs. Trey Mancini tied the game in the sixth with a leadoff home run that marked his third hit of the day.

A leadoff single and walk in the fifth brought manager Brandon Hyde out of the dugout to remove López. Giancarlo Stanton looped a single into right-center, the softest ball he’s hit in the series, Torres flied to shallow right and Urshela struck out on a high fastball.

Odor kept the ball on the ground and found space on the right side for a 2-1 lead. López was charged with both runs, along with four hits, two walks, three strikeouts and a wild pitch mixed among his 79 pitches.

Six of 11 inherited runners have scored against Plutko, who lowered his ERA to 1.20 with 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Travis Lakins Sr. replaced him in the seventh and coaxed a double play grounder from Torres.

Mancini grounded a run-scoring single off Jordan Montgomery in the first inning. Montgomery didn’t retire the side in order until the fifth and was gone after Mancini’s fifth home run of the season, which had an exit velocity of 110. 5 mph.

Mullins led off the bottom of the first with a single that gave him 16 hits against left-handed pitching, the most in the majors. Hays laid down a sacrifice bunt and Mancini followed with a single up the middle, proving that his luck also is improving.

Anything on the ground this month seemed to find a glove, but not lately.

What Mullins is doing continues to thrill and amaze his teammates.

“Unbelievable, man,” López said. “He’s huge for us. Cedric Mullins, every time I have him in back of me, he’s the guy, you know? He’s the guy we need every day. It’s fun to watch him.”

“It’s incredible,” Mancini said. “I’m so proud of him. To go from being a major league starting center fielder a couple years ago and, like, being the heir apparent to Adam Jones out there, the reins were kind of handed to Cedric and he had a really tough start to the year and ended up in Bowie. He just completely built himself back up from a mental standpoint and physically he made some adjustments, too. He’s lethal out there in every aspect of the game. He covers so much ground in center field. Obviously, what he does offensively, you don’t really need to talk about it because it speaks for itself.”

Mancini lined a two-out single past Montgomery’s head in the third to match his two hits last night, and the home run gave him five in a row.

Mancini watched video of his 2019 at-bats yesterday with hitting coach Don Long and might have unlocked the solution.

“I’ve definitely felt better the last couple days,” he said. “I know I’ve had a couple spurts this year where it looked like maybe I broke out of it and everything, but I never had that feeling I’d say that I did a couple years ago, and I’ve been searching and searching. And Don has been a huge help.

“What I noticed was everything was so simple. I was thinking too much what my lower half was, where are my hands and everything, and I kind of let that go and just really focused and zeroed in on the pitcher and focused on pitch selection, because that’s the name of the game and I think that’s basically a huge reason for some of the at-bats where I haven’t so well. It’s because I’m not letting the at-bats happen, and Hyde had a talk with me about that yesterday, too. The name of the game is just relaxing, not being afraid to get deep into counts if you don’t get your pitch and swinging at the right pitch.”

“I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, I’m not going to lie. I think we all were.”

Ryan Mountcastle lined a single into right field leading off the second, and though he was erased on a double play, it signaled that he, too, may be ready to bust out. Except his luck stayed the same after he broke his bat in the fourth, lifting a fly ball to shallow right field and watching Clint Frazier make a diving catch.

Lopez-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgLópez retired the side in order on only 10 pitches in the first inning and struck out the first two batters in the second on 97 mph fastballs. He hit 97 mph again in the third to fan Torres after back-to-back two-out singles by DJ LeMahieu and Stanton - the latter a ground ball at 117 mph.

A hit batter and two-out single in the fourth brought pitching coach Chris Holt to the mound. Frazier swung at the first pitch, the 69th from López, and flied to the warning track in right.

The fifth inning keeps confining López.

“Every time I go there, I try to compete the best I can,” he said. “I don’t try to think about things not going my way. I just try to go pitch-by-pitch, try to execute it every time. ... Sometimes things don’t go our way, so I just kind of keep pushing, keep pushing and see if I can get farther.”

“I’d like to score a few more runs so it’s a little easier to keep him out there,” Hyde said. “I’d like to see him grind through that inning if he could if we had a 5-0 lead.”

Hyde wasn’t taking any chances in the fifth with the lineup turned over again.

The Orioles weren’t taking another loss from the Yankees.

A big win to take on the road “just because I feel like we did so many things well today,” Hyde said. “Just really good situational hitting there at the end, Pat with a big, huge bunt off 100 mph and Cedric with the sac fly. Nice to see Trey swing the bat the way he did. I was really proud of our pitchers. I thought our pitching was just outstanding. Valdez isn’t going to be perfect all year, but we trust him with the ball and more times than not it’s a strikeout or a ball on the ground. One of those things, one strike away. How about Tanner Scott there, electric stuff? A lot of good things happened today.”

Notes: Former Orioles left-hander Wade LeBlanc cleared waivers and elected free agency, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

Triple-A Norfolk announced plans to welcome fans back to Harbor Park at 38 percent capacity, meaning up to 4,731 fans may attend the May 18 home opener against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

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