The parade of former Orioles pitchers was bound to stumble. It only takes one.
Richard Bleier, the fourth to wear the designation tonight for the Marlins, allowed the tying runs to score in the eighth inning with a defensive breakdown providing an unwanted assist. Ryan McKenna walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and the Orioles rallied past Miami 8-7 before an announced crowd of 8,363 at Camden Yards.
Cedric Mullins drew a leadoff walk against Steven Okert and advanced on a wild pitch and Austin Hays’ sacrifice bunt. Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle were walked intentionally to load the bases and McKenna - who scored the winning run Sunday - ran the count full and laid off an inside and low fastball for the walk-off win.
“We’ve been in the fight until the end in basically every single game, and I’m so proud of the way the guys have been playing,” Mancini said on his Zoom call. “It’s just been a different feeling, I’d say, this second half, just a different energy and it’s been really, really fun to be a part of.”
Bleier replaced John Curtiss with one out in the eighth and walked the pinch-hitting McKenna. Ramón Urías followed with his second double and Severino grounded to Lewin Díaz for the second out. Díaz stepped on the bag, became distracted by McKenna and fired the ball past third baseman Brian Anderson to reduce the lead to 7-6.
Maikel Franco followed with a single to tie the game.
Dillon Tate entered in the top of the ninth and walked Díaz. Jorge Alfaro reached on an infield hit, but Lewis Brinson struck out after failing to lay down a bunt and Tanner Scott stranded two runners.
Jorge López was on pace tonight to avoid the usual angst over his inability to make it through the fifth inning.
He threw 30 pitches in the first. Getting anywhere near the fifth was becoming unrealistic.
López lasted only two innings to match his shortest outing of the season, surrendering five runs but spared a loss as the Orioles rallied to tie in the third.
Thomas Eshelman caught the same break while making his first appearance since July 10, allowing two runs in the fourth after loading the bases with no outs and waiting until the eighth to also hop off the hook.
Severino hit a 422-foot three-run homer off Jordan Holloway in the second inning after DJ Stewart and Urías walked. Holloway was gone after 2 1/3 innings and Mancini’s 19th home run of the season that cut the lead to 5-4 in the third.
Urías tied the game in the same inning with a double off former Oriole David Hess, which followed Stewart’s second walk against Holloway and a passed ball.
López is trying to keep his spot in the rotation and manager Brandon Hyde again is sorting through his options with Keegan Akin clearing COVID-19 protocol. López hasn’t made it through the fifth in his last six starts and eight of nine, and finished tonight with a 6.19 ERA
The Marlins mainly chose to nickel and dime López in the first while cashing in with two runs. Leadoff hitter Miguel Rojas singled on a ball that deflected off Urías’ glove and he scored with one out on a fly ball from Jesús Aguilar, the only one hit hard in the inning, that glanced off Mullins’ glove as he leaped at the fence.
Mullins had a shot at it because he’s that good. He probably thinks he should have come down with it.
Anderson was ruled to have been hit by a pitch with two outs, the call was changed upon review and he slapped a single into a vacant spot on the right side for a 2-0 lead. Stewart’s throw from right field skipped to the infield and never got close to the plate.
Díaz walked and Alfaro reached on a chopper over the mound to load the bases before Brinson struck out.
Rojas doubled with one out in the second on a bouncing ball that appeared to hit the line twice, landing behind third base and eluding Franco’s backhand reach. Isan Díaz followed with a grounder that second baseman Domingo Leyba could only touch on his diving attempt.
Aguilar hit a two-run homer to left-center field, nothing cheap about his assault on a 95.6 mph sinker, and the Marlins led 5-0.
López issued a walk before retiring the next two batters. Eshelman sat down in the bullpen but finally made his first appearance in more than two weeks, and his first this season in relief after five starts.
Eshelman worked three innings and allowed two runs and two hits. His two walks were back-to-back to open the fourth, Adam Duvall singled to load the bases and Anderson was actually hit by a pitch to force in the go-ahead run.
Lewin Díaz grounded out and the Orioles trailed 7-5.
Mountcastle reached on an infield hit in the fifth against former Orioles minor leaguer Zach Pop but was out at the plate on Stewart’s double. Former Oriole Preston Guilmet entered in the sixth to keep the theme alive, his first major league appearance since 2018, and retired the side in order.
Bleier rounded out the former foursome and received the harshest treatment.
“We had some ex-O’s out there,” Hyde said. “I always follow guys that have been here. Follow players that you’ve had, but that was a little bit unusual.”
César Valdez tossed two scoreless innings for the Orioles and hasn’t allowed a run in his last four appearances to lower his ERA from 6.91 to 5.40.
Mancini extended his hitting streak to 10 games in the third, and his home run - the third in four games - came after he caught the ceremonial first pitch from Sonsy Gaba, the mother of Orioles superfan Mo Gaba. Mo passed away a year ago today from cancer. Mancini grew extremely close to the family.
Sonsy blew Mancini a kiss after he waved at her from the dugout.
“It was a really good night for us,” Mancini said. “Such a special first pitch, and getting to see Sonsy again was great. It’s obviously tough being the anniversary of Mo’s passing, but it was so great to see Sonsy. She just said, ‘Play hard for Mo and hit one for him.’ And she told me where she was sitting, so after I did hit the home run I wanted to wave to her there, and it was definitely a cool moment and I definitely felt him with me.
“I thought about Mo a lot, all day. I can’t believe it’s been a year since we lost him. I think just with his energy and his happiness and the happiness that he brought to others, it doesn’t seem that it’s been that long, so it did mean a lot. I miss him every day.”
Said Hyde: “I missed the first pitch but Trey had a huge smile on his face after the homer. And he comes in the dugout and I’ve never seen him try to get somebody’s attention in the crowd, so I was just asking him. With a huge smile on his face. He was really pumped up and then I realized who he was waving to, so obviously that was a huge moment, a big moment for him and a special feeling to do that today with her in the stands.”
“He’s just taking really good at-bats. I think he’s getting, a year layoff and then kind of struggled a little bit early in the year, he’s just getting going for me. He feels good. Even during the Home Run Derby, probably helped him from just a positive-feeling standpoint, because he is walking around in a great mood and you can tell he feels good and feels good at the plate. Taking really good swings. Dangerous, dangerous hitter. Just getting big hits.
Notes: Here are the starters for the four-game series in Detroit:
Double-A Bowie’s Adley Rutschman started at first base today and hit his 16th home run, and Kyle Stowers had three hits in a 5-2 loss in Richmond. Gray Fenter allowed one run and one hit with five strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings but also walked four batters.
Triple-A Norfolk shortstop Mason McCoy hit his fifth home run in the first game of a doubleheader against Durham and right fielder Robert Neustrom delivered a three-run walk-off homer in the seventh inning. Kyle Bradish allowed an unearned run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Kevin Smith took a no-hitter into the fifth inning in the second game before allowing a single. He tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings with four walks and four strikeouts.