It was a home run to admire and Orioles shortstop Jonathan Villar did just that. He blasted a ball to left-center with two men on in the O’s seventh and slowly took a few steps toward first as he admired his work.
Villar crushed a three-run shot 443 feet as he turned a 2-2 game into a 5-2 O’s lead. The O’s won 7-3 over the newly-crowned National League West champion Los Angeles Dodgers to end a six-game losing streak. At 47-98, they match the win total of the 2018 Orioles.
Villar’s blast was also historic. It was No. 6,106 hit in Major League Baseball this year to set an all-time record. The previous mark was 6,105 from the 2017 season.
The O’s came to bat in the seventh in a 2-2 tie and facing lefty reliever Caleb Ferguson, who had just come on. He walked pinch-hitter Renato Núñez to start the inning and Mason Williams pinch-ran. Austin Hays singled to right for his third hit, sending Williams to third and Hays ran to second due to an E-9.
With one out, up stepped Villar. He drilled a first-pitch fastball at 93 mph for the 5-2 lead on No. 21. It ended a 13-game run without a homer and was hit at 108 mph.
The O’s tacked on two more runs when Pedro Severino hit a two-run shot for a 7-2 lead an inning later. He hit No. 12 a distance of 430 feet into the Dodgers bullpen.
O’s lefty John Means was rolling into the top of the sixth with a 1-0 lead on 59 pitches. But a two-run homer to center by leadoff hitter A.J. Pollock put Los Angeles ahead. No. 9 hitter catcher Austin Barnes doubled to start the inning and scored when Pollock batted next. He hit a high 3-2 changeup 429 feet to center for the lead on his 14th home run.
Means went 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision, allowing four hits and two runs as his ERA dropped to 3.47. Right-hander Shawn Armstrong got the win in relief.
The Orioles had taken a 1-0 lead in the second off Los Angeles right-hander Ross Stripling. Trey Mancini started the frame with a double to left and scored on Dwight Smith Jr.’s double to center. But Smith was thrown out trying to for third when the outfield throw coming in was off the mark.
Stripling went just three innings and gave up three hits and one run on 37 pitches, with 25 for strikes.
The Orioles tied this game 2-2 in the last of the sixth off reliever Joe Kelly. Hanser Alberto walked to start the inning, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Smith’s two-out single to right for a two-RBI game.
The Orioles, who improved to 23-51 at home and 7-12 against the NL, will wrap up this series with the Dodgers (94-53) on Thursday night.
In the Eastern League Championship Series tonight, Double-A Bowie beat Trenton 7-2 to even the best-of-five series at a win each. Bowie hosts Game 3 tomorrow night. Lefty Alex Wells gets the start for Bowie.
Villar on homer as the MLB record and told that his bat will go to the Hall of Fame: “Somebody told me that. That’s unbelievable and impressive for me and the team. That’s awesome. Feel excited for that.”
Villar on admiring his homer: “When you hit a homer like that, you need to see it. That one, we can see where the ball is going. That’s not every day. Just one time.”
Hays on having a big day in the majors once again: “It was awesome. I’ve been working for this moment today for two years to come out and just play an aggressive style of baseball like I do. Lot of fun getting the dub tonight. Getting some late home runs. Was just a very fun and exciting game all the way around.”
Hays on going home for a few days and now settling in here: “It was almost relaxing on the body to go home for four or five days and just quietly reset. Then come in, get my work in the cage and get going on the field defensively. Then the games - it’s just all instinct from that point. Really comfortable where I am right now and just excited to be on the field with these guys.”
Hays on trying to make an impression for next year and how equipped he is to handle it this time: “In 2017, I hadn’t dealt with a whole lot of failure and everything happened really fast. I was young, I was one year out of college. So being able to go through a couple of big league spring trainings and get to know the guys and build some relationships, build a relationship with the coaching staff, I definitely feel I know everyone in here more. That definitely means a lot for a younger guy that comes up. You just feel more comfortable all the way around.”