The Orioles were a strike away from picking up what could have been their best win of the season. Baltimore snapped Framber Valdez’ historic quality start streak, battled back from multiple deficits, and nearly bested the best team in baseball for the third consecutive night.
Baltimore’s bullpen entered tonight’s game with more rest than any point in the season, but apparently the group acquired some rust. Félix Bautista blew leads in both the eighth and ninth innings as the Orioles eventually fell 11-10 in what was likely the wildest game of the season.
Bautista entered with the Orioles clinging to a 7-6 lead in the top of the eighth. Yuli Gurriel delivered a double down the left field line and the Astros tied the game when Austin Hays missed the cutoff man. Anthony Santander reclaimed the lead with his second homer in the bottom of the eighth, but Bautista allowed four more runs in the top of the ninth.
The Astros loaded the bases with a pair of singles and a walk. Bautista picked up the second out of the inning with a ground ball and got ahead of Kyle Tucker before the All-Star doubled to right field. Baltimore replaced Bautista with Jake Reed but Gurriel singled away from the shift to give Houston the lead for good.
A random baseball fan would say that it’s a shame either team had to lose tonight. I will simply say that it’s a shame the Orioles lost at all.
Baltimore’s offense finally woke up after the pitching staff had carried the club the last three nights. Mike Baumann did enough as a spot starter, and 10 runs should win a ball game any day. Unfortunately, Bautista and Joey Krehbiel just did not have it tonight.
Baumann posted a pair of zeros to start the game but the Astros struck first in the third. Mauricio Dubon led off with a single up the middle before Jose Altuve launched a ball to dead center. Altuve provided Houston an early two-run lead with his 26th home run of the season.
The Orioles squandered two early scoring chances but posted a crooked number in the fourth. Adley Rutschman and Ramón Urias led off with singles. Austin Hays bounced what could have easily been a double-play ball to short, but Jeremy Peńa failed to field it. The error allowed Rougned Odor to step up with the bases loaded and the veteran infielder delivered. Odor took a first pitch curveball and hit it sharply into right-center field to even the score at two.
Jorge Mateo followed with a soft grounder down the first baseline. Valdez fielded the ball and flipped to first for the first out, but another run came into score. The Birds had already secured the lead when Cedric Mullins stepped in with a man on and two out, but Mullins turned a nice inning into a big one.
Mullins launched a high fly ball that sailed onto the flag court to give Baltimore a 5-2 lead. The blast marked the first home run that Valdez had surrendered to a left-handed hitter all year.
Brandon Hyde went to the bullpen with the lead but things quickly fell a part. Joey Krehbiel loaded the bases with a pair of singles and a walk, but Hyde stuck with the righty. Peńa made up for his error with a two-run double that trimmed the lead to one and chased Krehbiel from the game.
Hyde summoned Cionel Pérez to face Yordan Álvarez but the momentum had already shifted. Álvarez singled to left field to even the score at five, and Bregman gave Houston the lead on a sacrifice fly to foul territory. Pérez struck out Kyle Tucker to end the inning.
There are shutdown innings and then there are innings like this. Hyde noted prior to the game that Baumann was not stretched out enough to work deep into the game. He threw 58 pitches and exited after allowing two runs on three hits.
Anthony Santander immediately responded with the biggest at bat of the game up to that point. Santander led off the bottom half of the fifth with a 417-foot blast to right-center field. The ball left his bat at 107.1 MPH and tied the game in a hurry.
The Orioles reclaimed the lead an inning later when Ryan Mountcastle plated Mateo with a single to right field. Baltimore had a prime opportunity to tack on when they loaded the bases in the seventh, but the Birds went 0-for-3 with the bases juiced.
Mateo struck out looking, Gunnar Henderson tapped into a fielder’s choice for an easy out at the plate, and Cedric Mullins grounded out to second to end the threat. Henderson pinch hit for Chirinos which caused the Orioles to lose the designated hitter when Rutschman moved behind the dish.
Dillon Tate worked a clean seventh but walked Álvarez to start the eighth. Hyde went to Félix Bautista for a five-out save, but things did not go as planned. The Mountain struck out Kyle Tucker for the second out but Yuli Gurriel hooked a ball down the left field line.
Álvarez, who does not run well, received the stop sign at third base but kept on chugging. The Orioles had a prime opportunity to nab Álvarez at the plate, but Austin Hays missed the cutoff man and the Astros tied the game at seven.
Once again, Santander delivered the biggest hit of the night at up to that point. The switch-hitter stepped up after a Mountcastle single and pounded a ball over the scoreboard in right field. Santander’s second dong gave Baltimore a 9-7 lead and figured to be the lead in this story. Not tonight.
Bautista’s struggles continued into the ninth. He allowed a pair of singles and a walk before the Tucker double did him in. Hyde summoned Jake Reed to replace Bautista with runners on second and third. Gurriel delivered the fatal blow to provide Houston the 11-9 advantage.
Odor led off the tenth with a solo home run but the Birds went quietly after that.
The entire team greeted Brooks Robinson near the mound before the Hall-of-Famer threw out the first pitch. The Orioles celebrated the 45th anniversary of “Thanks Brooks” night with a pregame ceremony that involved Robinson being driven around the stadium in a convertible.