Zac Lowther arrived in Baltimore and delivered the first quality start of his career. Unfortunately, the effort was not enough to secure his first major-league victory. Lowther left the game with a one-run lead, but the Royals used a two-run eighth to hand Baltimore a 3-2 loss in the first of a three game series.
Anthony Santander nearly evened the score in the bottom of the ninth, but Andrew Benintendi reached just above the left field fence and took away a game-tying home run. DJ Stewart brought the go-ahead run to the plate with a single to left, but Jahmai Jones chased a 3-2 breaking ball to end the game.
Cole Sulser entered the eighth with Baltimore clinging to the one-run lead. He immediately allowed a leadoff double to Whit Merrifield to put the tying run in scoring position. Nicky Lopez moved Merrifield to third with a sacrifice bunt before one of the best power hitters in the game stepped to the plate.
The infield moved in as Salvador Perez stepped up, and the move came back to bite the Orioles. Perez popped a ball up to the most shallow part of right field, but Jones could not retreat in time. The ball landed in front of Santander, and the Royals had evened the score at two.
Ryan O’Hearn flew out for the second out, but Carlos Santana singled up the middle to move Perez into scoring position. Benintendi delivered a clutch single to right field to provide the Royals a 3-2 lead.
The game particularly stung after the strong outing by Lowther. The Orioles optioned Dusten Knight to make room for Lowther before the game, and the lefty answered the call. He allowed only three hits, struck out two, and was a solo homer away from six shutout innings.
Lowther needed just nine pitches to complete the first inning, and recorded all three outs with ground balls in the second. He allowed a leadoff walk to Hunter Dozier in the third, but bounced back with back-to-back strikeouts of Merrifield and Lopez.
Former Oriole Hanser Alberto worked a 3-1 count before absolutely crushing a 3-1 fastball into the visiting team’s bullpen in left field. The ball traveled 426 feet and was just Alberto’s second home run of the season.
Baltimore struck first after Austin Wynns reached on an infield single in the third. Wynns advanced on a walk by Mountcastle, and Austin Hays drove him home with a base hit up the middle. The knock extended Hays’ hitting streak to 13 consecutive games.
Jorge Mateo singled to start the second and attempted to steal second base. Mateo was called out, but his hand appeared to beat the tag on the lower part of his leg. The Orioles challenged, but the replay crew refused to overturn the call.
The play came back to bite the Orioles after Kelvin Gutierrez appeared to beat out a ground ball in the fifth inning. Gutierrez was ruled out at first, and the Orioles could not challenge the play. Brandon Hyde immediately left the dugout to argue, but nothing could be done.
Cedric Mullins followed Gutierrez with a solo home run. The blast could have been a two-run shot— if you subscribe to that type of thinking. The homer did propel Mullins to the 26-26 club.
Jorge López replaced Lowther in the seventh and generated a weak ground ball to first base. López drifted over to cover first but rolled his right ankle when it made contact with the bag. López immediately collapsed in pain and needed to be helped off the field.
Connor Greene entered and recorded the next two outs, but Sulser led the lead slip in the eighth. Zack Burdi made his Oriole debut with a scoreless ninth inning.
The Orioles have yet to announce a starter for tomorrow. Baltimore can even the series tomorrow against Jackson Kowar at 7:05 p.m.