After having their playoff aspirations dashed by the Yankees over the weekend, the Orioles welcomed the NL East leading Atlanta Braves into Camden Yards for a three game series. Not an ideal scenario considering the O’s desperately need wins to stay afloat in the playoff race. But their bats, which were ice cold in New York, caught fire en route to a 14-1 win to start the series. With the Yankees and Indians inactive, the Orioles moved within five games of a playoff spot with 13 games remaining.
The bulk of the Orioles’ damage was done by the first four hitters in the order. Cedric Mullins scored three times and had two hits, Jose Iglesias tied a career high with four hits while driving in four, DJ Stewart homered (because of course he did) and drove in four, and Ryan Mountcastle had three hits and RBI’s. Austin Hays registered two base hits in his return from the Injured List. All told, the O’s collected 15 hits on the evening and 14 runs scored is a season high. It was an impressive performance after scoring three runs in 33 innings at Yankee Stadium.
The O’s hung a 9 spot on the Braves in the third inning and never looked back. Stewart, Mountcastle, and Iglesias all homered in the frame. Stewart and Mountcastle, the club’s first two picks in the 2015 draft, went back to back. It was Iglesias’ first home run of the season. This marked the first time since 2016 that the Orioles scored at least 9 runs in an inning.
While the Orioles’ offense stole the show, Jorge Lopez shut down an Atlanta club that entered the game leading the majors in runs scored. Making his fourth start as an Oriole, Lopez registered his first quality start of the season. He allowed only one run on five hits in seven innings. He punched out three and walked two while throwing 93 pitches. Lopez’s ERA fell from 6.83 to 5.23.
Baltimore didn’t waste any time getting on the board in this game. Mullins and Iglesias each singled to lead off their first inning. After Stewart struck out, Mountcastle rocketed a single to left field to give the O’s a 1-0 lead. The inning could have been bigger, but Iglesias was caught in a run down on a Renato Nunez infield single to end the inning.
The O’s did it all in the third inning. Mullins led off with a single and stole second. Stewart’s seventh home run of the season came after an Iglesias infield single. Mountcastle immediately followed with a solo homer, his fifth, to center field to extend the lead to 5-0. After two walks and an error, Mullins lined an 0-2 pitch to right field for a two run single. Iglesias followed with a three run shot, amazingly his first of the year, to give the O’s a 10-0 lead.
After sitting for a long time in the dugout, Lopez ran into his only real trouble of the game. He allowed a lead off single to Freddie Freeman and walked Travis d’Arnaud on four pitches with one out. Dansby Swanson hit a ball that had an expected batting average of .880 to center field, but Mullins tracked it down on the run. Lopez then got the third out of the inning without allowing a run.
The Orioles continued their output in the fifth inning with less fireworks. Austin Hays led off the inning with a single, his first hit since returning from the Injured List. Andrew Velazquez walked and Iglesias flared an RBI single over the second baseman’s head. Stewart, who apparently doesn’t exclusively hit home runs, drove in the 12th run of the night with an infield single. Mountcastle then singled to make the game 13-0.
Lopez gave up his sole run of the night to Freddie Freeman, who led off the sixth with a home run. The right-hander settled down and completed the quality start. He then came out for the seventh inning and retired the Braves in order.
Pat Valaika pinch hit for Iglesias in the seventh inning and picked up where his teammate left off. He drove a pitch to the right field warning track, where our old friend Nick Markakis got a glove on it. But Markakis appeared to knock the ball over the fence to give the O’s a 14-1 lead. It was microcosm of the evening for the Atlanta Braves.
Former closer Cole Sulser took over for Lopez in the eighth inning, as Brandon Hyde found a situation for him to get back on track in a low pressure situation. He allowed a walk in the eighth but did not allow a run. Carson Fulmer made his second appearance as an Oriole in the top of the ninth inning. He struggled with command; hitting a batter, walking one, and throwing several to the backstop. But Mullins again reminded us how good he is defensively, ending the game with a diving catch.
Thomas Eshelman (3-0, 3.96 ERA) will start tomorrow for the Orioles in another must-win game. The Braves have not announced their starter.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Monday, September 14?
This poll is closed
Jose Iglesias (4-for-4, four RBIs, first HR as an Oriole)
Jorge Lopez (7 IP, 1 ER, W)
Ryan Mountcastle (3-for-5, HR, three RBIs)
DJ Stewart (2-for-5, HR, four RBIs)