Felix Bautista looked absolutely unhittable when he struck out Joey Votto with a 100-MPH fastball in the eighth inning. Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving.
Bautista hung a splitter to the next batter he faced and Brandon Drury did not miss it. Drury whalloped the ball 372 feet over the left field fence to break the tie and secure the lead for the Reds. Cincinnati held on for a 3-2 win and clinched a series victory.
The blow came after Baltimore fought back to tie the game at two. Cedric Mullins got the Birds on the board with a sacrifice fly in the seventh, and Anthony Santander evened the score with a no-doubt home run in the top of the eighth.
The blast by Santander marked the latest rendition of the Orioles coming back late in games. Baltimore appeared to have a bullpen advantage in the matchup, but that’s not how it played out today.
The Reds broke through after Baltimore turned to the relievers. Bryan Baker started the sixth inning and immediately walked the first two batters he faced. Baker generated a fly out after a visit from Chris Holt, but Jonathan India tagged up and advanced to third on the play.
The Orioles replaced Baker with Cionel Pérez and applied the shift for Joey Votto. The future Hall-of-Famer punched a 3-2 breaking ball the other way directly at the hole on the left side. India scored easily and Donovan Solano advanced to second.
Pérez walked pinch hitter Brandon Drury before surrendering a sacrifice fly to Kyle Farmer. Joey Krehbiel replaced Pérez to mark the third pitcher used in the inning.
Baltimore wasted a best-case-scenario start from Austin Voth. Voth posted a season-high five shutout innings. He allowed four hits, struck out six, and did not walk a batter. Voth threw 53 of 77 pitches for strikes and gave the Orioles everything they could ask for from the swingman.
The Orioles failed to support Voth as they struggled against Nick Lodolo. The first-round pick from 2019 limited Baltimore to four hits and struck out seven over 6.1 innings.
The Orioles threatened in the sixth with a pair of two-out singles but Ramón Urías struck out looking on a 3-2 fastball. Anthony Santander and Austin Hays reached in the fourth, but Urías and Mountcastle failed with runners in scoring position.
Baltimore appeared to have momentum on their side after evening the score at two. Bautista walked Tommy Pham to start the eighth, but Adley Rutschman made a tremendous throw to nab Pham on a stolen base attempt. Bautista showed his best against Votto, but it only took one mistake to sink the Birds.
Pinch hitter Terrin Vavra worked a two-out walk in the ninth, but Trey Mancini grounded out to end the game. Mancini got the extra at bat Brandon Hyde wanted for him after the skipper placed him in the leadoff spot, but Mancini failed to capitalize.
The Orioles could have avoided this fate if they managed to score earlier in the game. The takeaway is a series loss against a team over 20 games below .500. This weekend did not help the current group if Mike Elias is factoring current performance into his trade deadline decision making.
Baltimore will head to Texas for a three game set against the Rangers. Good teams can still drop a series against struggling opponents, but the Orioles cannot make a habit out of it if they hope to maintain pace in the wild card race.