Games between two losing teams this late into the season can get a little wonky. Tonight’s contest featured multiple home-run robberies and the appearance of a guy named Joey Krehbiel. The Orioles lost their closer to injury in the ninth and eventually surrendered five runs.
The Orioles lost the game 8-5, but tonight will not be remembered as another blown lead. Friday’s game will go down as the first time a Baltimore Oriole notched a 30/30 season.
Cedric Mullins stepped to the plate with two on and the Orioles trailing by one. The All-Star center fielder fouled off the first pitch before taking one to even the count. Mullins recognized a low slider toward the middle of the plate and pulled the trigger. He launched a ball to deep center field that traveled just far enough to evade a jumping Leody Taveras.
And just like that, Mullins made history.
Of course, the story encompasses more than just one homer in late September. The blast put the finishing touch on a season-long accomplishment. The former center-fielder-of-the-future reached a feat that few, if any, had predicted he would reach.
Cal never did it. Neither did Brooks or Frank. Not Brady Anderson, not Reggie Jackson, not Adam Jones or Paul Blair. Nope. Only Cedric Mullins.
It’s important to celebrate special moments in a difficult season like this. John Means’ no-hitter elicited a similar feeling back in May. Both of these guys accomplished something significant, and both did it in an Orioles uniform. Both players project to play a part on the next winning team, but they already command attention.
Still, it would have been nice to win this one. The Orioles have been a tough team to watch all year, but they can still sour your Friday night with a late-game gut punch.
Wells entered to close out the game with the Birds up two, but the closer grimaced after immediately serving up a leadoff triple. Severino walked out to the mound, and several others joined from the Orioles’ bench. Baltimore, not taking any chances, yanked Wells from the game.
Brandon Hyde summoned Conner Greene to replace Wells. Greene allowed a sacrifice fly that quickly cut the lead in half. A bunt single, a swinging bunt, and a walk loaded the bases after that. Pitching coach Chris Holt returned to the mound to speak with Greene.
Apparently the message from Holt wasn’t enough. Adolis Garcia scored two with a double to left, and the Orioles officially forfeited control of the game. The Rangers grabbed another run on a fielder’s choice, and notched their eighth run with the classic first-and-third double steal. Severino threw through to second base, the runner stopped half way, and Garcia barely beat the throw home.
Mullins’ deep fly represented a significant milestone, but it also served as a turning point in the game. Baltimore trailed by one before Mullins took Texas starter Spencer Howard deep. The Orioles scored the first run of the game on a fielder’s choice by Richie Martin.
The Orioles were a pair of web gems away from a few extra runs. Taveras, who nearly stole Mullins’ historic homer, went up high and robbed severino of a home run in the third. Just one inning later, DJ Peters climbed the wall to take a round-tripper away from Pat Valaika.
Baltimore added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth that felt significant at the time. Mountcastle kicked off the frame with an infield single and moved up after Pedro Severino walked on four pitches. Ryan McKenna laced a single up the middle that easily scored Mountcastle from second base.
Texas jumped out to an early two run lead in the top of the first. Alexander Wells recorded two quick outs before a single by Garcia. Nathaniel Lowe followed with his sixth homer of the season to provide the Rangers an early advantage. Wells made it through five innings and briefly served as the pitcher of record in line for a win.
The Orioles will attempt to bounce back with Chris Ellis on the mound tomorrow evening. For now, just reflect on a special season by Cedric Mullins.