If this is you, well, I’m sorry. Over nine innings, these two heavy-hitting teams scratched out just two runs apiece, and not in particularly beautiful fashion. Matt Chapman’s solo homer in the second was the only one the Jays scored off O’s starter Dean Kremer. Meanwhile, the Orioles pushed just across two runs against a tough Kevin Gausman—on a pair of RBI groundouts!—before Toronto tied it, 2-2, with a sac fly off a rusty Mychal Givens in the seventh inning. Nine innings of offensive blahness.
Emphasis, however, on the “nine innings” part. The O’s offense mostly snoozed in regular time, but suddenly in extras, it awoke like a mighty dragon.
We begin at the top of the tenth. Cedric Mullins, already with three hits on the day, came to the plate against Toronto’s Nate Pearson with Jorge Mateo at second as the Manfred Man. Pearson threw him a high fastball. Crack! Mullins laced it into right field and Mateo came home easily.
Alas, it wasn’t enough. By this point in the series, the Orioles ‘pen was depleted, with big guns Félix Bautista, Bryan Baker and Yennier Cano all unavailable, and Austin Voth went out for a second inning in a row. He got a big strikeout of Matt Chapman, but Whit Merrifield drove a single up the middle to tie the game, 3-3. That was it for Voth, Brandon Hyde determined. But who was left? Mike Baumann, that’s who! Baumann got an out before he’d even thrown a pitch: he fired to first base and picked off Merrifield, then retired the Jays’ catcher to keep the game going.
To the eleventh we went. With one out, Toronto’s Yimi García gave up a single to Adam Frazier, making it a two-hit day for the second baseman. Frazier’s single was hit hard enough that automatic runner Ryan McKenna couldn’t get past third. But Mac wouldn’t be stranded long. Austin Hays delivered his third hit of the game to score him, and the O’s had a 4-3 lead. My mind wandered, wondering if Big Mike was up to the task of a one-run, eleventh-inning save…
But I didn’t need to wonder very long. Gunnar Henderson kept the line moving with a single to load the bases, and Terrin Vavra, pinch-hitting for catcher James McCann, delivered the biggest hit of the night, a two-run double that, per MLB.com, instantly bumped the O’s win probability to 92.6%. To cap off the party—the team’s and his own—Cedric Mullins doubled deep to center, making this an 8-3 game.
Now with a five-run lead, Mike Baumann had no trouble mowing through the Jays. He rung up Cavan Biggio and retired Kevin Kiermaier and George Springer on flyouts. It was all smiles for Big Mike, and for this team, which just pulled off a three-game sweep against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Before that, yeah, there were nine innings of baseball. What we learned from these can be distilled into four conclusions.
One, Dean Kremer wasn’t gorgeous today (his hair, of course, the exception), but he was undeniably effective. “Dean Kremer can be a stubborn guy out there on the mound,” observed MASN’s Kevin Brown in the fifth inning, and I think that sums this one up. Kremer allowed traffic on the bases all day, but he allowed just one run, threw a season-high 105 pitches, and tied a career high with seven strikeouts. His fastball had tons of life, drawing seven whiffs, and so did his cutter. If this is Kremer on an “OK day,” this will be a very happy fanbase.
Two, defense was a difference maker today, and shortstop Joey Ortiz was a huge part of that. In the third inning, Brandon Belt had smoked a double off Kremer, but he ran into an out when Ortiz fielded a grounder and alertly fired to third.
The Blue Jays had their webgems, like in the fourth inning when Kiermaier hauled in a 395-foot Gunnar Henderson bomb to deep center and Bo Bichette made a diving grab to start a 6-4-3 double play. But the Orioles responded immediately, as Ortiz, Frazier and Mountcastle turned a 6-4-3 GIDP of their own to end a brewing threat.
Defense also saved the team’s bacon after Kremer left the sixth inning following a walk and a single and Cionel Pérez promptly loaded the bases with a four-pitch walk. I started to get sad, thinking about what was about to happen to Dean Kremer’s ERA, and then, wow: a Pérez sinker found the zone, Kiermaier hit it weakly to Ortiz, and like that, the Birds had their second GIDP and another lucky escape.
To cap it off, Ortiz also did Danny Coulombe a solid in the eighth inning after leadoff man Cavan Biggio walked, stole second easily … and then overslid the bag! Ortiz held the tag, and bam, Biggio was gone. The rest of the inning was easy.
The Orioles’ defense been mediocre thus far, but it’s waking up. And right now, between Ortiz and Jorge Mateo, there’s an excess of riches at shortstop.
Three, Mullins is on one massive hot streak. He was a one-man wrecking crew today, and it was only because the Orioles’ two-, three-, and four-hole went a collective 0-for-15 that he didn’t score enough runs to win this game for Baltimore even earlier. Mullins had five hits on the day, including two doubles and three RBI, and he now has a team-leading .858 OPS, which is not something I saw coming.
Fourth and finally, this series was closer than advertised, with scores of 6-2, 6-5 (in extras), and today’s 8-3, which was 2-2 in nine innings. You think you’ve seen the last of the Blue Jays? Think again.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Orioles are doing it all right now. If they don’t have the offense firing, like today, the bullpen steps up big in the clutch. And it wasn’t the A-team relievers that did it, it was Pérez, Givens, Coulombe, Voth and Baumann.
A 31-16 Baltimore just swept a series on the road against the Toronto Blue Jays, a team they went 2-8 against in 2020, and 5-14 in 2021.
Everything is coming up orange these days.
Who was the Most Birdland Player on Sunday, May 21?
This poll is closed
Dean Kremer, 5 1/3 IP, 1 R, 9 H, 2 BB, 7 K
Cedric Mullins, 5-for-6, 5 H, 3 RBI
Joey Ortiz, 1-for-3, R, 2B, four big plays on defense
The ‘Pen, 5.2 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 5 K without Cano, Baker, Bautista