Sometimes baseball goes exactly as you think it will go and other times it’s nothing that you expect. Cedric Mullins was able to provide both Friday as he became the seventh Orioles hitter to hit for the cycle, propelling the Orioles to a 6-3 win over the Pirates.
In the preview for the game, I mentioned that the matchup against Pirates starter Johan Oviedo should be particularly advantageous for Mullins. Oviedo had an ERA over 12 in this last three starts and favored his breaking balls. The Orioles’ center fielder has been the O’s best hitter against breaking balls all season. However, no analysis of this matchup could have prepared Birdland for what Mullins delivered against Pittsburgh.
CEDDY FOR THE CYCLE!!! pic.twitter.com/JEbA8WQ8u9— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) May 13, 2023
After flying out to lead off the bottom of the first, Mullins came up in the bottom of the second and ripped a first-pitch fastball into right field for his single—the Orioles down 1-0. The 102-mph rocket was a sign of things to come for Mullins and the Orioles. The O’s couldn’t quite cash in on Mullins’ first hit, though. A balk and groundout to first moved Mullins to third. After a Anthony Santander walk, Ryan Mountcastle came to the plate with two on and two outs. RMC failed to tie the game up, striking out to end the inning.
Mullins would again give the O’s a scoring threat in the fifth inning, as he ripped a 2-2 curveball into the right-center gap and sprinted around the bases for a two-out triple. On opening night for the Orioles’ new Bird Bath Splash Zone section, Mullins’ triple provided fans with their first reason for water works. However, the celebration would stop there as history repeated itself. Adley Rutschman walked to give Santander first and third with two outs. and just like Mountcastle, Santander struck out to leave the runners stranded
Introducing Mr. Splash and the Bird Bath pic.twitter.com/PPb2IGFEqu— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) May 13, 2023
In between Mullins’ quest for history, a wild and wacky baseball game broke out. The Pirates got on the board first in the third inning when infielder Ji-Hwan Bae led off the inning with an infield single up the middle. Bae would move into scoring position on a wild pitch and then slid over to third on a groundout by catcher Austin Hedges. With the infield drawn in, Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes grounded the ball to Jorge Mateo giving the O’s shortstop a chance to gun down Bae at the plate. Instead, Mateo fired the ball wide of Adley Rutschman, Bae scored and the Pirates took a 1-0 lead.
The Orioles would tie the game in similarly goofy fashion in the bottom of the sixth. Mountcastle started off the inning by inside-outing a ball into the right field corner, where it skimmed off the glove of outfielder Connor Joe, allowing Mounty to scamper around the bases for another Orioles triple. After Adam Frazier walked and Austin Hays struck out, Gunnar Henderson came to the plate. Pirates reliever Dauri Moreta bounced a slider in the dirt and, after Hedges failed to locate the wild pitch, Mountcastle scrambled home from third to tie the game.
The seventh inning would then serve as the dramatic appetizer to Mullins’ historic main course. The Pirates took the lead again in the top of the inning when Joe launched a looping fly ball into left that managed to stay just fair for a solo HR. Mullins then stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the inning and turned on another first-pitch fastball to send a double into the right-field corner. This time, though, the O’s would immediately capitalize as Adley doubled into left field to bring Mullins home and tie the game. Two batters later, Mountcastle singled up the middle to plate Rutschman and give the Orioles a 3-2 lead.
Splish splash, they're taking a bath. pic.twitter.com/7yCtWi0R2s— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) May 13, 2023
After taking the lead in the bottom of the seventh and working a 1-2-3 inning, it seemed like all the drama in the game had already come and gone. Then Mullins stepped to the plate for his final at bat. As the O’s center fielder stepped to the plate, play-by-play man Kevin Brown said if he hit a home run they should give a Bird Bath to the entire stadium. Then, on a changeup on the outer half of the plate, Mullins rained a home run down on the right field flag court—completing the cycle and unleashing a flood of excitement throughout Camden Yards.
Despite not factoring in the decision, Kyle Bradish put up his best start of the season Friday against the Pirates. Bradish found success early and often relying on his fastball and slider. He struck out Bryan Reynolds and Andrew McCutchen back-to-back on fastballs in the top of the 1st, with Reynolds swinging through some high heat and McCutchen freezing on a heater at the bottom of the zone. Early in the evening Bradish was able to throw early strikes with his slider and then finished the batters off with his fastball. Then, when he went back through the Pirates lineup, he reversed his sequence—getting ahead on fastballs and finishing off Pittsburgh hitters with his breaking balls. The Orioles’ right-hander tied a season high with six innings pitched and 6 K’s, and allowed a season-low three hits to go along with the unearned run.
Things seemed done and dusted after the Mullins home run gave the O’s a 6-2 lead, but the bullpen made things interesting in the 9th. Austin Voth walked McCutchen to lead off the inning, followed it up by allowing a single to Carlos Santana and then allowed a run on a Jack Suwinski single to right. With a four-run lead, Felix Bautista though he might get the night off; instead the Mountain was summoned to clean up Voth’s mess. Bautista did just that, striking out the next three batters to close things out.
In the first game of the Bird Bath era, all of Birdland got to witness Cedric Mullins provide one of the most exciting individual performances in franchise history. If the O’s continue to produce such magical moments at home, the front office may not want to look at their next water bill. Friday night’s win though, that’ll be something Orioles fans look back on often.
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