If one of the Orioles’ goals tonight was to get right-hander Dean Kremer back on track, they did that. But could his strong outing lead to a win in the series opener at Seattle?
It was a night where Seattle went with a bullpen game. And that actually was not great news for the Orioles. The Mariners bullpen began the game first in the majors in ‘pen ERA at 2.30 and second in WHIP and batting average against.
And for seven innings, five Mariners pitchers kept the Orioles off the board. And thanks to a fifth-inning solo homer, Seattle led 1-0.
But the game would not end that way.
O’s center fielder Cedric Mullins and shortstop Freddy Galvis hit two-run homers in the eighth as the Orioles went on to win 5-3 and take the series opener. Baltimore improved to 14-15 overall, to 10-5 on the road and to 5-1 in road series openers.
Left-hander Anthony Misiewicz came on to start the O’s eighth and walked No. 9 hitter Pat Valaika. Then Mullins drilled a 1-2 cutter to deep right. The O’s briefly had flashbacks to Sunday in Oakland when right fielder Mitch Haniger made a leaping try at the wall. But the ball appeared to get just over his glove for homer No. 5, a left-on-left homer at that and the 2-1 lead.
But the Orioles were not done. Yet another reliever, this time righty Wyatt Mills, walked Ryan Mountcastle and Galvis followed with a two-run blast to left center. He hit No. 3 on a 1-0 fastball to give the O’s a four-run lead.
In his last start Wednesday against the New York Yankees, Kremer allowed 10 hits and six runs in 4 1/3 innings. He threw 89 pitches and left that outing with an ERA of 8.40.
But tonight, after stranding two runners in a 22-pitch last of the first, he got rolling. He retired nine in a row into the fourth inning and had a shutout through four on one hit, throwing 60 pitches. Through that frame, Kremer threw first-pitch strikes to 10 of 15 batters.
But the scoreless tie ended on one swing in the Mariners fifth.
Batting eighth, catcher Tom Murphy hit a solo homer to right for a 1-0 lead. Kremer threw a pretty good pitch on a 3-2 count. It was a fastball on the outside corner, but Murphy drove it out to right, 362 feet for the lead on his third homer.
But Kremer’s outing was otherwise spotless. He went six innings, allowing two hits and one run with two walks and four strikeouts. He threw 94 pitches, including 61 four-seam fastballs that topped at 95 mph. He lowered his ERA to 6.43 in his longest outing of the season, topping his previous best of 4 2/3 innings.
César Valdez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts to record his seventh save in nine chances.
The O’s produced a big rally tonight in the third against Seattle’s second pitcher, but did not break through.
Against righty Domingo Tapia, they loaded the bases with two outs. That brought up Trey Mancini. The O’s first baseman began the night tied for third in the American League with 21 RBIs, but he struck out swinging on a 99 mph fastball.
Franco doubled to leadoff the fourth, but didn’t score. Valaika drove a ground-rule double to right with one out in the fifth, but he didn’t score either, as the game remained tied at 0-0.
The Orioles were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position through the fifth.
But the frustrations on offense ended with Mullins’ big swing in the eighth as the Orioles improved to 3-1 on this road trip. They have won four of five, six of nine and are 9-7 over the last 16 games.
A win tomorrow night would give them another series victory and move them to the .500 mark for the first time since April 10.
Manager Brandon Hyde on the win: “I thought Dean was really good. Aggressive with his fastball. Just got beat on a good cutter, down and away. Tip your hat to Murphy there for a really good piece of hitting and not an easy park to leave. But I thought Dean was in control the whole way through. I liked his tempo. He had life to his fastball. Saw some good changeups tonight. He pitched extremely aggressive tonight and that was fun to watch. And the five-spot in the eighth was just a really good rally. Mullins with the left-on-left homer that I thought was a (Ramón) Laureano play from yesterday and Freddy to go oppo like that.”
Kremer on his outing: “I feel like the stuff has been the same since the beginning of the season, but today I tried out a different mental game, I guess. And made sure I was staying on the attack and never really backing down from anybody who stepped to the plate.”
Mullins on his homer: “I knew it had a chance and at same time I knew it had a chance to stay in as well. When he jumped, I had no visual of what happened. I just saw him jump up and heard the crowd go crazy and thought he had it. But he looked like he wasn’t sure. He was kind of slow to get up and that’s when I was holding my hands up for Pat to kind of keep looking, keep looking, and when he came up without the ball, we started to trot.”