The Los Angeles Angels ruined a great script.
Right-hander Cole Sulser was trying to finish off a strong day for the bullpen, but it didn’t happen.
Mullins had entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth and singled to tie the game. Then he topped that. He homered off Angels closer Raisel Iglesias in the top of the ninth to break a 4-4 tie as the Orioles went ahead 5-4.
But Juan Lagares’ bases-loaded walk-off two-run double in the last of the ninth provided the Angels a 6-5 win. A walk and two singles loaded the bases with none out and Lagares drilled one to the track in right-center off Sulser to give the Angels their second walk-off win of the series.
It was the Orioles fourth walk-off loss of the year.
“It was an All-Star performance,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Mullins via Zoom “Got a day off (at the start), comes in, pinch-hits in the sixth, huge hit for us. Then he’s facing an elite closer and homers for us in the ninth inning. It’s a game we should have won. Really proud of our guys how we battled back. Thought we did some nice things on the mound up until that ninth inning in the fifth through the eighth. Got the lead and didn’t hold on.
“He got hit. Sulser has been pitching pretty well for us, but had a tough time in the ninth inning. He walked (José) Iglesias and Iglesias doesn’t walk. Can’t happen. And then got hit after that.”
This would have been a great way to end the road trip for the Orioles, coming from 4-0 down to win. But they couldn’t close it out.
After the O’s bullpen had kept the game tied 4-4 since the sixth, Mullins drilled his 15th homer to right-center on a 3-2 pitch to break the tie in the ninth. It was his 101st hit of the year and came off a 98 mph fastball. He went 2-for-2 to as a reserve to improve his average to .318.
Before the game, the Orioles players and staff found out Mullins was officially an All-Star. During the game the news was made public.
“We brought the whole team together in the clubhouse and I announced it in front of everybody,” said Hyde. “Special moment. Felt really good to let him know that, in front of everybody, he was an All-Star. Hoping he starts.”
The Orioles offense took a while to get going today, and in the first inning, they missed out on a great scoring chance.
Los Angeles lefty Patrick Sandoval, making his eighth start, issued a leadoff walk to Ryan McKenna, who drew a 10-pitch walk. With two outs, Sandoval walked Ryan Mountcastle and Ramón Urías. With his pitch count at 27, Sandoval faced O’s left fielder DJ Stewart. Sandoval ran the count full, but Stewart struck out swinging at a 3-2 slider on the eighth pitch.
Sandoval needed 35 pitches to survive the inning, but he stranded the bases loaded as he put up a zero. Sandoval started to settle in after that frame and his changeup was on point, as he pitched into the sixth.
But that was when the Orioles’ dormant offense came to life. They produced a stirring rally to tie the game at 4-4.
Austin Hays reached on an infield single and Trey Mancini walked. Then righty Aaron Slegers replaced Sandoval. After Mountcastle lined out, Urías roped an RBI double to left that left runners at second and third. Stewart came up and lined a first-pitch fastball to right for a two-run double and the Orioles were within 4-3.
One out later, with right-hander Andrew Wantz on for his major league debut, Mullins came up as a pinch-hitter. This was his first at-bat as an All-Star and he looped a game-tying single to left for a 4-4 tie. It was his 100th hit of the year.
The Angels had scored two runs each in the first and third to take an early 4-0 lead off right-hander Thomas Eshelman, who allowed seven hits and four runs over four innings.
Jared Walsh had an RBI double in the first and scored on Phil Gosselin’s single for a 2-0 lead.
Then Shohei Ohtani hit his third homer of the weekend as the Angels lead grew to 3-0 in the third which also featured a solo homer by Anthony Rendon off Eshelman. Ohtani blasted his major league-leading 31st homer after he hit two Friday night. He has homered in 11 of his last 17 games, hitting 14 in that span.
The Angels were denied an extra-base hit in the last of the sixth when McKenna made an incredible diving catch in the gap in left-center to rob Kurt Suzuki. McKenna started the game in center, but moved to left after Mullins entered the lineup in the top of the sixth.
The O’s bullpen did a good job holding the 4-4 into the late innings. Zac Lowther pitched a scoreless fifth, which included a strikeout of Ohtani, and Tyler Wells did the same an inning later. Tanner Scott followed them and got five big outs.
On a day there were positives performances by Mullins and the bullpen until the ninth, the Orioles still lost to complete a 4-6 road trip.
“Pretty irritated, so it’s tough to process right now,” said Hyde. “Yeah, we swept Houston, we get left on the field here first night, lose by three the second night and left on the field the third game. Definitely in two of the three games here after we just swept Houston. So it’s frustrating to not win these sort of games. When we have the lead, with our record the way it is, it’s nice to win. And so it’s disappointing giving a game like this away.”
The Orioles now return home for an off-day Monday. They begin a six-game homestand at Camden Yards on Tuesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays.