The Orioles got one hit when they needed it Monday. It was all they needed.
Cedric Mullins had a two-run single for his first RBI of the season, Baltimore pitchers combined on a shutout and the Orioles got their first win of the year in their first home game of the year, 2-0 over Milwaukee.
The fears of starting 0-4 for the first time since the infamous 1988 season can be put to rest. Pressure pitching, and one clutch hit, made it so.
After scoring four runs in three games in an opening sweep at the hands of Tampa Bay, the O’s weren’t exactly slugging their way through Monday’s home opener, but they did just enough. In the bottom of the second, Ramon Urias led off with a single, and though a Rougned Odor groundout advanced him to second, the likelihood of a big inning seemed to be dealt a blow when Austin Hays tagged a deep fly ball to center, only for Tyrone Taylor to make an impressive running, reaching snag for the second out.
Urias tagged and went to third, though, and Jorge Mateo and Robinson Chirinos drew walks to load the bases. Brewers starter Adrian Houser fell behind Mullins as well, and the Silver Slugger winner made him pay by lining a single to center to score both Urias and Mateo for a 2-0 lead, prompting a celebratory reaction from an amped-up Mateo and raising the decibel level with the Opening Day crowd.
(As a quick aside: Talk about a fun snapshot. Mullins showing what made him a top-10 MVP vote-getter last year after a tough start, Mateo showing off the wheels, and the Oriole faithful getting up for a moment like it was September and the division was at stake. Good stuff.)
The Orioles threatened some more later, but couldn’t add to the lead. Baltimore had runners at the corners with one out in the fifth, but Urias grounded into a double play. In the sixth, the Orioles again had runners on first and third with two outs, but Mullins missed out on a chance to add to his RBI count when his shot back up the middle was snagged by Aaron Ashby for the third out.
So it was up to the pitchers to hang on and get the job done, and in a twist to the typical Oriole story, they succeeded. Starter Bruce Zimmermann was rock-solid, pitching four innings while allowing three hits and two walks and striking out four. Zimmermann opened the day with five straight outs before Taylor doubled to left, but his calling card for the day was navigating around trouble. He followed the Taylor double by striking out Kolten Wong on a down-and-away slider, pumping his fist at his ability to keep the score tied at zero.
In the top of the third he opened with two quick outs, but ran into a jam again when Andrew McCutchen doubled to left and Willy Adames and Christian Yelich drew bases-loading walks. That brought up Hunter Renfroe, who hit 31 home runs and drove in 96 runs last year, but Zimmermann got the slugger to chop to third to end the threat.
Zimmermann had to deal with a runner in scoring position in the fourth as well when Keston Hiura singled and stole second, but he got Wong to line out to center and Mike Brosseau to fly to left to again escape unscathed.
The Orioles’ bullpen was able to keep the zeroes coming. Michael Baumann pitched 2.1 innings, but left after allowing a single to Wong. Dillon Tate came in and allowed another hit to Victor Caratini, but the right-hander got McCutchen to fly to center - admit it, you thought it was gone off the bat - and Adames to line to short to keep the Brewers off the board.
Cionel Perez allowed a Yelich single in the eighth but got an inning-ending double play from Lorenzo bleepin’ Cain (I’ll never forget the 2014 ALCS), and Jorge Lopez, trying his hand at closing after a difficult season as a starter, allowed a walk but otherwise rolled to the save.
Not a bad way to get things started at the Yard. The Orioles can now say they’ve never lost with their jacked-up left field corner. Maybe the short porch was the problem all along.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for April 11, 2022?
This poll is closed
Cedric Mullins (2-R 1B)
Anthony Santander (2-for-2, 2 BB, on base all four appearances)
Bruce Zimmermann (4 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 4 Ks)
Michael Baumann (2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 Ks)