How would the Orioles respond this afternoon to the latest trunk load of adversity? A possibility of another long losing streak after their staff ace landed on the injured list? The uncertainty that lies ahead with a rotation that’s already been in a fragile state?
Manager Brandon Hyde got his answer.
By taking out every ounce of frustration on the Indians. From the top of the lineup to the bottom.
Cedric Mullins stayed on his remarkable tear and the Orioles hit and ran the bases at an elite level while winning their second series in a row with an 18-5 victory before an announced crowd of 9,423 at Camden Yards.
Ten batters came to the plate in the second inning, six runs scored and the Orioles were poised to improve their record to 21-38 overall and 10-20 at home. They sent nine to the plate in the fourth and seventh and tallied five runs in each inning with two outs.
The 18 runs are the most scored by the Orioles since Aug. 16, 2015 against the Athletics. Only two home runs today, including Ramón Urías’ solo shot in the eighth, among the 21 hits.
Let the music play.
Today marked the second time this season that the Orioles won two consecutive series, also doing it in Oakland and Seattle from April 30-May 5. The hadn’t claimed back-to-back series on the same homestand since May 2018 versus the Royals and Rays.
All of this after John Means underwent an MRI on his left shoulder that confirmed the strain.
“It’s very, very similar to what he had in 2019, so no structural changes in his shoulder,” Hyde said via Zoom. “It’s pretty much a sore shoulder. We’re going to shut him down for a week to 10 days and see how he responds to treatment and go from there.”
Mullins followed up his two-homer, five-hit day with a leadoff shot in the bottom of the first after Cal Quantrill ran the count full.
Opposing pitchers should just run.
Mullins has homered in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. His nine homers this season are tied with Freddy Galvis for second on the team behind Trey Mancini (11). The .322 average, .390 on-base percentage, .533 slugging percentage, 73 hits, 15 doubles, three triples and 25 walks rank first. The 32 runs trail him by one.
Dismissing him as a possibility for the All-Star Game is foolish.
A bloop single in the second produced a run and gave Mullins a hit in eight consecutive at-bats, tied for the third-longest streak in club history. No one had strung together that many since Melvin Mora in August 2000.
Mullins kept going, leading off the fourth with a double and getting thrown out at third. The hits in nine consecutive at-bats tied Charles Johnson, in September 1999, for the second-longest streak.
Ken Singleton holds the team record at 10 straight hits in April 1981.
Mullins led off the fifth with a walk, putting his streak on hold, and drew a four-pitch walk in the seventh. He got another shot at Singleton in the eighth and flied to left field.
“What he’s doing right now is, I don’t have words. Just so impressive,” Hyde said.
“His at-bats are so good. He’s taking walks, he’s under control, he’s staying on the baseball. He’s close to the plate and they try to crowd him and they did that for a few weeks and we talked a little bit about it and now he’s really getting to that pitch in, also, so he’s covering the entire plate. He’s a tough out, he’s tough with two strikes, he’s swinging at strikes and he plays Gold Glove defense. So he’s absolutely doing a little bit of everything right now.”
Mullins said he didn’t know about the streak until after his fly ball was caught.
“Not a single person prior to that at-bat told me anything, probably for a good reason, and I choked it anyway, but it’s OK,” he said. “Just continuing to have good at-bats from this point forward.”
“I think we’re all very aware,” Hyde said, “and that’s why the dugout gave him the ovation it did when he flied out to left.”
Mullins received a standing ovation from the crowd as he trotted off the field, which he believed was a first for him after making an out.
Pondering his place in team history will have to wait.
“I think it will hit me a little later,” he said. “Right now, still in celebrating mode with a team win.”
The Orioles loaded the bases with one out in the second inning on singles by Ryan Mountcastle and DJ Stewart and a 96 mph fastball that hit Urías, Catcher Austin Wynns fouled off four pitches and lined a sinker into right-center for a 1-0 lead, and his first major league hit since Sept. 28, 2019 in Boston.
Mullins drove in his second run with the single and two more scored when Quantrill fielded Mancini’s comebacker and bounced his throw to the backstop.
Anthony Santander, in a 6-for-28 slump, followed with a two-run double for a 7-0 lead. Santander also singled in the fourth and had an RBI single in the seventh for his first multi-hit game since May 27.
Mountcastle went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored and has 16 hits in his last 43 at-bats, with 10 extra-base hits in 12 games. He contributed an RBI double in the seventh.
Mullins stole the spotlight again in the third with a lunging catch to rob Amed Rosario and prevent a second run from scoring. The Indians began the innings with back-to-back doubles from Yu Chang and Bobby Bradley.
The Orioles were on such a roll today that two runners scored from second base on infield hits with two outs in the fourth inning. Santander, on his bad ankle, after Mountcastle’s shattered bat forced Rosario to stay back on the ball and avoid the barrel, and Galvis on Stewart’s grounder fielded by second baseman Cesar Hernandez in shallow right.
Maikel Franco lined a two-run single into center field following reliever Sam Hentges’ wild pitch and came home on Urías’ single down the right field line to give the Orioles a 12-1 lead.
Hunter Harvey stranded a runner in the sixth inning in his second appearance since reinstatement from the 60-day injured list. Rule 5 pick Tyler Wells retired the side in order with two strikeouts in the seventh. Zac Lowther covered the last two innings and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the ninth.
Lowther was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game.
Jorge López wasn’t sharp after retiring the side in order with two strikeouts in the first, allowing three runs and four hits with three walks, a wild pitch and hit batter in five innings, but the Orioles were generous in their support.
Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out in the third. Chang ran the count full and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play as Harvey warmed.
A double play also ended the second after Eddie Rosario’s leadoff walk and a line drive hit into the shift. But Amed Rosario belted a two-run homer with two outs in the fifth, and López benefited from two more line drives hit directly at an infielder.
The seventh-inning explosion for the Orioles included a two-run single for Ryan McKenna and he entered the game as a pinch-runner.
“It’s one thing this team the last few years has always done is responded,” Hyde said. “Something we’ve been proud of, how many tough losses we’ve had over the last couple years and how our team continues to play hard and shows up the next day ready to play, so doesn’t surprise me. That was a tough day yesterday watching John walk off the mound the first inning, and our bullpen was pretty taxed today. So, yeah, for our guys to respond and Lopie gutting it through five innings and our offense doing what they did, it was a nice win.”
“I know how hard he’s been working every outing and how important to him to give everything he has,” López said. “He knows what he’s doing and we really miss him, but it’s something that will benefit his future career to take care of his business. I know he’s smart and being around hi is one of the best things. ... How professional he is. I know he wants to help our team. So I know he’s going to get back soon.”
Notes: The Cardinals claimed left-hander Brandon Waddell off waivers from the Orioles, who designated him for assignment on Friday.
Jahmai Jones homered today at Single-A Aberdeen on his injury rehab assignment.
Adley Rutschman hit his eighth home run with Double-A Bowie.