The Orioles can only provide the opportunities, sit back and hope that he flourishes. Just as they did while making Cedric Mullins their everyday center fielder.
Akin issued a leadoff walk to George Springer tonight in the second game of the doubleheader, retired 15 batters in a row and turned in six hitless innings, and Mullins belted his 29th home run. But the Orioles still couldn’t achieve the split.
They couldn’t keep it close.
They couldn’t believe what was happening to them.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led off the seventh with a single and Bo Bichette homered into the left field seats, punctuating it with a bat flip. Alejandro Kirk greeted Tanner Scott with a two-run homer and Marcus Semien had a three-run shot, Teoscar Hernández launched a three-run homer off Manny Barreda, the ball clearing the home bullpen, and the Blue Jays completed the sweep with a stunning 11-2 victory before an announced crowd of 10,219 at Camden Yards.
Coupled with a blown three-run lead in the opener, the Orioles fell to 46-96 overall, 5-10 against Toronto and 5-6 this month. The thud was much louder with the Jays tying their club record of 11 runs and 11 hits in an inning after doing nothing through the sixth.
The four home runs in an inning also matched the franchise mark.
“Disappointing way to end the ballgame,” Akin said. “Not even about the first six innings. You don’t want to lose a ballgame like that at the end and we kind of let that get away from us.”
“It’s just a lot of balls squared up,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “They’re big hitters and they have big-time numbers to show for it.”
Akin retired 18 of 20 batters, two walks his only missteps, before Guerrero’s line drive into right field. Bichette demolished a changeup for his 23rd home run, Hernández singled and Hyde came to the mound.
“Just kind of lost my command there and left some pitches over the plate and paid for them,” Akin said.
Scott threw Kirk a 96 mph fastball and 88.4 mph slider and the Jays led 4-1. And they weren’t done with Scott, who was charged with six runs and six hits and retired only one batter, Breyvic Valera, on a sacrifice fly. His ERA is 5.17.
Hyde was forced to summon Barreda, who gave up a single to Bichette and Hernández’s 445 foot shot, exit velocity 110.6 per Statcast. Barreda also walked two batters and the Jays sent 16 batters to the plate.
“No-hitter going into the seventh inning with an extremely short bullpen for Game 2 and was hoping, obviously, that he could finish it,” Hyde said.
“Guerrero with a nice piece of hitting and then (Akin) kind of pulled a changeup there to Bichette that gave them the lead, and then we had a tough time getting outs after that, so a disappointing day.”
Akin plowed through five innings at 68 pitches, 44 for strikes. He walked Randal Grichuk leading off the sixth, fielded Valera’s bunt and got the out at first after a review, and retired Springer and Semien on popups.
Back on the mound at 85 pitches, Akin failed in his attempt to register his first complete game and the Orioles couldn’t gain a split. Doubled over a second time by a gut punch.
No one came close to a hit tonight until Guerrero. Ground balls, routine fly balls, popups and three strikeouts.
The Brewers spun a combined no-hitter tonight, raising the season total to nine, most in the modern era. Arizona’s Madison Bumgarner held the Braves without a hit in the second game of an April 25 doubleheader, but seven-inning gems don’t shine in Major League Baseball.
Akin wasn’t going to quibble. He just wanted the win.
The 2021 season will be memorable to Akin for so many reasons, both good and bad. The failure to make the club out of spring training, the cut finger on his pitching hand from a kitchen accident that delayed his promotion, his placement on the COVID-19 injured list, his removal from the rotation.
Now he has a start with six hitless innings to recount during the offseason. And will try to block out the rest.
Knowing that more opportunties will follow won’t relax Akin.
“Not really,” he said. “Just take it day-by-day and start-by-start and get through one and then prepare those four or five days to take on the next start, so at this point in September just stick to one start at a time and go from there and battle on those days and work between those and recover and go back out for another.”
Mullins put a 93 mph fastball from Thomas Hatch onto the flag court leading off the third inning, inching him closer the first 30/30 season in franchise history. He needs one more home run and two stolen bases.
A pinch-hitter in the first game, Mullins has homered in five of his last seven starts.
Trey Mancini followed Mullins’ homer with a walk and Anthony Santander stayed on his tear with a double into right field. But Austin Hays struck out, DJ Stewart popped up to Kirk and also nailed him on the backswing, and Jorge Mateo grounded out.
Failures to put away the Jays in the opener severely cost the Orioles.
They also didn’t get away with it in the nightcap. Held to three hits, all against Hatch over four innings, until Richie Martin’s leadoff double in the seventh. Martin scored with two outs on Bichette’s throwing error.
Barreda was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game and Dean Kremer was returned as the 29th man. A pitcher will arrive on Sunday.
Notes: Kyle Bradish started the first game of Norfolk’s doubleheader and allowed one run and three hits with five strikeouts in five innings. Durham shortstop Alika Williams homered.
Jordan Westburg had a three-run triple in the ninth inning to lead Double-A Bowie to a 5-4 win over Harrisburg. He also doubled earlier in the game.