For just the second time in their 27-year history, the Double-A Bowie Baysox are headed to the Eastern League Championship Series. The Baysox had 20 hits and routed Harrisburg 12-5 on Saturday afternoon to take that playoff series, three games to one.
Bowie (79-65) will now face the Trenton Thunder (79-62) in the championship series. Trenton, a Yankees affiliate, will host the first two games on Tuesday and Wednesday before Bowie hosts Game 3 on Thursday. The Baysox will host Game 4 and 5 if necessary on Friday and Saturday.
During the regular season, Bowie won two of three at home versus Trenton in June and lost two of three at Trenton in early August.
In Saturday’s Game 4, outfielder Cedric Mullins, who began the year starting for the Orioles, led off the game with a homer on the second pitch and hit for the cycle. Mullins went 5-for-6 and completed the cycle with a ninth-inning double. He had three RBIs and scored three runs.
Before Game 1 in Bowie, Baysox manager Buck Britton praised Mullins, who ended the year at Double-A, for continuing to play well and showing leadership for the Baysox.
“What Mullins did coming down is not easy to do,” said Britton. “To fall as hard as he did, per se. The guy has been a pro and a leader in this clubhouse. He just went out and played and played well here. I hope the organization sees that. There is a lot of value in that guy. What he’s done has been pretty amazing.”
Mullins was the first Baysox player hitting for the cycle since Manny Machado on Aug. 4, 2012.
Winning pitcher Alex Wells gave up one run over six innings.
Mullins was far from the only player having a big game on offense Saturday. Preston Palmeiro, who hit .412 in the series, went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs. Jesse Valentin homered and went 2-for-4. Ryan McKenna went 3-for-4, scored two runs and batted .636 in the series. Yusniel Diaz went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Diaz said his team was excited to chase a title this month.
“Very enthusiastic. We came all the way from being way down and now we’re on top. Very excited to try and win a championship,” said Diaz through interpreter Sean Banks.
Bowie had an early 6-0 lead in the second inning and was well on its way to another appearance in the championship series following after 2015, when the Baysox won their first and only Eastern League title. That is also the last minor league championship by an O’s affiliate.
Britton, who was named the Eastern League Manager of the Year, now will guide his team in the championship series. On May 5, Bowie was 7-23. That was the worst record in all of minor league baseball. On Tuesday, they will take the field three wins from a championship.
“You don’t get a lot of opportunities to win championships,” said Britton. “I played for nine years in the minor leagues and I never won a championship. Went to the playoffs a couple of times. There are guys in that clubhouse that aren’t going to play in the big leagues. But this is something where you know you grind with guys for five months and they become your family on the road. Just down the road, to be able to talk to the grandkids or be able to tell stories about what happened in 2019 would be special.”
O’s try to avoid the sweep: The Orioles have lost the first three games of their home series with the Texas Rangers. They’ll have to win today to avoid a four-game sweep.
Overall, the Orioles (46-96) have lost four in a row and seven of eight games. They are 22-49 at home and 1-5 against Texas.
Rio Ruiz hit a solo homer in the fourth inning last night. With that longball, the Orioles now have 10 players with double-digit home runs this season, tying the franchise record (also 1998 and 2000).
The Orioles allowed double-digit hits for the 69th time in 2019, the most in the majors.
Anthony Santander extended his career-high hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI single in the first to put the Orioles on the board. He is batting .373 (19-for-51) with three doubles, six homers, eight runs scored and 15 RBIs during this stretch.
The Orioles went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position last night and are 4-for-33 (.121) with RISP the past four games.
Texas is 71-73, has won six of nine games and is 8-2 against the Orioles since Aug. 2, 2018.
THE BAYSOX WIN THE PENNANT!!!!-- Bowie Baysox (@BowieBaysox) September 7, 2019
The final out... pic.twitter.com/tYF8yed9hg