The Orioles just weren’t quite good enough on Wednesday night. They held the lead most of the night over the host Mets, but poor pitching performances and defensive wizardy from their opponents put the O’s on the wrong side of a 7-6 defeat.
Cedric Mullins kick-started the Orioles offense, as he does often, with a single to begin the game. After moving to second on a groundout, Mullins came around to score on a Renato Nunez flare single into right field.
Picking up where we left off pic.twitter.com/AaMdotMn5n— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) September 9, 2020
The O’s didn’t stop there. DJ Stewart stayed hot at the plate with a single into right field that put runners on the corners. Ryan Mountcastle followed that up with a base hit to bring Nunez home, extending the Orioles lead to 2-0.
Dominic Smith’s double to lead off the bottom of the second inning got the Mets offense moving. Smith would move to third on a Pete Alonso single and then make it home on a Jeff McNeil base knock to make it a 2-1 deficit for the hosts.
In the top of the third, the Orioles added to their lead with contributions from the usual suspects. Stewart and Mountcastle singled in front of Rio Ruiz, who knocked them in with a double to left-center field. Ruiz himself would come around to score on a Hanser Alberto single moments later. Just like that, the O’s were up 5-1 and, seemingly, on their way to another win.
Not so fast.
New York tightened the gap to 5-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning on a two-run Jeff McNeil home run, driving in Alonso, who had singled earlier in the frame.
The O’s padded their lead in the fifth inning with a lead-off home runs from, who else, Stewart. The right fielder hit his fifth home run in four games, with the latest round-tripper giving his team a 6-3 lead.
Oh he's HITTING hitting now. pic.twitter.com/seGpMcgRCQ— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) September 10, 2020
But the Mets wouldn’t be held down. Orioles starter Jorge Lopez had been steady if unspectacular through his first 4.2 innings. But he could not get that final out in the fifth inning.
First, Michael Conforto smacked a solo home run. Then, J.D. Davis walked. That is when Lopez was removed in favor of Paul Fry. But the Orioles lefty wouldn’t fare much better. The first batter he faced, Smith, singled. The second hitter he faced, Robinson Cano, also singled, and his hit drove in Davis to make it 6-5 before Fry would final wiggle out of the jam.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Orioles came inches (literally) from blowing this game wide open. A wild Jared Hughes loaded the bases on a walk and two hit by pitches ahead of Ruiz. The Orioles third baseman roped a ball over the head of Conforto in right field, but the Mets right fielder was able to stick his glove out and make a snow cone grab to deny Ruiz of what likely would have been a three-run double.
This may have been the stereotypical turning point in the game.
As so often seems to happen when a team misses a chance in their half of the inning, the O’s pitching staff gave up the lead in the opponent’s half. With Fry still on the mound, Andres Gimenez laced a line drive beyond the fences in left field to draw the two sides level at six runs apiece.
The game was slipping away from the Orioles. They were struggling to handle any Mets pitcher not named Rick Porcello, while their own staff wasn’t having its best day, and the offense had been good, but had also missed a couple of chances to sure up their lead. As much as momentum can exist in a baseball game, it was all in the Mets dugout.
The inevitable happened in the bottom of the eighth inning. The 2019 home run leader, Alonso, stepped to the plate to face Hunter Harvey out of the Orioles bullpen. Alonso launched the very first pitch out of Harvey’s hand, a 95-mph fastball, into the stands for a solo home run. The Mets had their first lead of the night, and they wouldn’t let it go.
To the Orioles credit, they put up a fight in the ninth inning. Alberto led off with a single. Then, Chance Sisco nearly squeaked a ground ball through the infield, but a diving play by Luis Guillorme turned it into a ground out. From there, Mets closer Edwin Diaz took care of business. He struck out Pedro Severino and forced Mullins to hit a pop up, finishing off the 7-6 Mets win.
It just felt like one of “those” games for the Orioles. They weren’t quite good enough. It took a few otherworldly defensive players from the Mets, and bad nights from two of the Orioles better pitchers, Fry and Harvey. It happens. It stinks. You move on.
The Orioles will switch boroughs on Thursday as they head to the Bronx for a pivotal four-game series with those Yankees. The first game begins at 7:05 with Keegan Akin (0-0, 2.08 ERA) facing Gerrit Cole (4-3, 3.63 ERA) on the mound.
This is gonna be a big one, folks.