There is plenty of baseball left to play this season. Regardless, I make this proclamation with the utmost confidence— Today’s contest against the Blue Jays was the wackiest Orioles game of the 2021 season.
Baltimore’s first six (SIX!) hits were home runs. Ryan Mountcastle went deep three times, and Cedric Mullins homered twice. Dean Kremer allowed a pair of homers in the first but did not allow a hit through the next five innings.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot... The benches cleared in the fourth inning.
After all of that, the Orioles had Toronto down to their last strike. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays scored six runs in the top of the ninth and stole a 10-7 victory.
Baltimore led by three entering the final frame, but Paul Fry loaded the bases before walking in a run. Brandon Hyde turned to Tyler Wells with two outs, but the Jays refused to quit.
Bo Bichette fouled off several pitches before popping a ball to right field. Anthony Santander charged, but the ball bounced off the webbing of his glove and fell to the ground. After Bichette’s game-tying blooper, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stepped up and immediately gave Toronto the lead with a two-run double.
The Orioles had this game won. They had the series won. Things were going so well. When was the last time two different Orioles’ players had a curtain call on consecutive nights? Still, somehow, the game ended with fans mumbling “well, at least there’s the draft pick.”
The Blue Jays did not waste any time getting things started. Leadoff batter Marcus Semien drove a ball over the left field fence before Kremer ever recorded an out. Kremer rebounded by striking out Bichette, but AL MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. launched a ball to dead center that provided Toronto a two-run advantage.
Suddenly Cedric-Mullins t-shirt night felt like a distant memory. Kremer allowed a single to Randal Grichuk, but retired Joe Panik to end the inning.
In a shocking turn of events, Kremer did not allow another hit. His final line read 6 innings, 3 hits, 6 K and 3 BB. He delivered a crucial shutdown inning in the fifth and appeared well on his way to his first victory of the season
The Orioles used the long ball early and often in this one. After a scoreless first, Mountcastle launched his first homer of the night to center field. Fresh off his two-homer night, Mullins tied things up with a high fly ball to the right field seats. If you’re still not convinced Cedric Mullins should make the American League All-Star roster, keep reading.
Kremer walked a pair of hitters in the top of the fourth but struck out Jared Hoying to escape the threat. Trey Mancini began the bottom of the frame with a walk, and Mountcastle provided Baltimore their first lead with a screaming line drive that just cleared the left field fence.
DJ Stewart followed Mountcastle with an absolute bomb to right field. The back-to-back jacks gave Baltimore a three-run lead and clearly rattled Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah. Manoah, the 11th overall pick in the 2019 draft, immediately drilled Maikel Franco with a high fastball after allowing the pair of home runs.
Franco took exception with a few choice words and a look that could kill. The Orioles bench immediately took to the field. Franco and Hyde both attempted to keep the benches from clearing, but the timing of the pitch made too much sense. There is no such thing as a big coincidence.
Hyde quickly turned from peacekeeper to aggressor as he jawed with Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo. Hyde had every right to stick up for his guys, but the team did not appear to have a legitimate interest in fighting. One knucklehead got rattled and made a full of himself. The pitch angered Franco, Hyde and Freddy Galvis, but the game eventually resumed without a punch being thrown. Monoah was ejected from the game.
Mountcastle blasted his third home run in the sixth inning, and Mullins added his second in the seventh. Semien trimmed the lead to three with his second homer in the seventh inning, but Fry still had plenty of wiggle room to close the game out.
Wells pitched in consecutive games for the first time in over a month. Hyde clearly hoped Fry could get the job done, but turned to Wells in a last-ditch effort to salvage the victory. To his credit, Wells had been the Orioles’ most reliable reliever in June.
Again, it’s the type of game that leaves you shaking your head. Six home runs, a three-run lead in the ninth, and the Orioles cannot win. It’s that type of season. It’s those type of years.
The Orioles will look to win the series tomorrow afternoon. Matt Harvey (3-8, 7.76 ERA) will take the mound for Baltimore. Bottoms up, folks.