Between 2011 and 2018, the Orioles won eight opening day games in a row. Starting in 2011, they beat Tampa Bay, followed by Minnesota and Tampa Bay again. Then they beat Boston, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Toronto and Minnesota again. But they lost 7-2 last year at Yankee Stadium and 13-2 last night at Boston.
Starter Tommy Milone cruised through two innings but then gave up four doubles and four runs in the third. Cody Carroll and Travis Lakins Sr. allowed six runs an inning later. So Boston led 10-0 through four innings, and to that point, the Red Sox were 9-for-20 at bat with six walks and five doubles.
Yep, it was ugly and a poor start to the 2020 season, said Captain Obvious.
Baltimore has now lost two straight openers for the first time since 2007 and 2008. Then they lost 7-4 at Minnesota and 6-2 at home versus Tampa Bay. The Orioles have only been shut out twice in openers and that was in 1954 and 1988. So they avoided that last night. Maybe a good thing, since the last time it happened they started 0-21!
But after a sleep-fast night, the Birds and Boston will be back at it this afternoon and the Orioles will try to crack the win column for the first time in 2020.
Props for Mullins: Outfielder Cedric Mullins, who ended last year at Double-A Bowie, starts this year on the big league roster for the second straight year. His route back to the majors took him through Triple-A Norfolk and Bowie last year. His bat didn’t get going until late in the season and Mullins tried to build on that momentum by spending time with hitting coach Rick Strickland in St. Louis this winter.
The reward was an opening day roster spot. We’ll see if he can hold onto it. Mullins didn’t start last night and the O’s outfield situation is a bit crowded with the recent returns of Anthony Santander and Dwight Smith Jr. from bouts with COVID-19.
Mullins earned his way back with a strong summer camp that included a home run and excellent catch during the exhibition game win at Philadelphia on Sunday.
His return to the active roster was met with enthusiasm Friday by a couple of his teammates.
“Yeah, it’s awesome,” center field Austin Hays said of Mullins. “Cedric is my boy and we’ve been roommates for years since 2017. Played on the same teams, and back in 2017, it was myself, DJ (Stewart), him and Santander. All four outfielders that we had that year are on the opening day roster getting to experience this together. It is kind of what you dream of in the minors is working your way here and all playing together in a big league outfield.”
Added Trey Mancini, who will miss the 2020 season as he continues his treatment for colon cancer: “I talked to Cedric a little bit since he made the club. I think that was such a really cool story, that he ended last year at Double-A and fought his way back and won himself an opening day roster spot. After a year that doesn’t go how you’d expect and you can come back the next year and build yourself back up, I think that’s really cool. So I always want to reach out to guys when stuff like that happens.”
Cobb’s return to the rotation: He has not pitched in a regular season game since April 26, 2019 at Minnesota. He made just three starts last year and had hip and knee surgeries in June. But right-hander Alex Cobb will take the ball for the Orioles today at Boston.
He was signed to a four-year deal to be a quality innings eater, help the club win and provide clubhouse leadership. After a strong summer camp, manager Brandon Hyde feels Cobb is ready to deliver on all three.
“He’s really throwing the ball well,” said Hyde on Friday. “In his last outing, he felt like his old self. I think that was the first time in a long time that Alex has felt like that. That’s very, very encouraging. We have a young team, an inexperienced team. And Alex and guys like Wade (LeBlanc) and Tommy (Milone), Bryan Holaday, who’s here on taxi squad, these guys have been through a lot of major league baseball games.
“And Cobber has been pitching in the AL East for a long time and his numbers are really good against AL East opponents. That is not easy to do. So to not only have his presence on the mound, but have his presence in the clubhouse as well as a voice, is huge for everyone.”
Cobb is 7-6 with a 3.84 ERA in 17 career games against Boston. The O’s would love him to come up big today and restore some order after last night’s blowout loss.
Tune in: Again today and throughout this year, I’ll be on 105.7 The Fan with “Extra Innings,” a postgame radio call-in show. After getting on very late last night, we’ll be on much earlier today. If you are not in the Baltimore area, click here to listen.