As the whole Orioles organization celebrated Pride Night on Wednesday, there was plenty for Birdland to be proud of from their O’s. Unfortunately, a win was not one of the things the Orioles could celebrate. After tying the game on a two-out rally in the 8th, Baltimore fell to the Reds 11-7 in 10 innings.
Offensively, the O’s continued to excel at scoring runs in bunches and finding clutch hits when trailing. After falling behind 3-0 in the top of the 1st, the Orioles offense roared back for four runs in the bottom of the inning. Cedric Mullins led off with a bouncing single up the middle, before Adley Rutschman rocketed a single the other way into left field. Two batters later, Ryan O’Hearn brought home the first Oriole run of the game as he slashed a single into right field to score Mullins.
Austin Hays then walked to load the bases and set up an epic moment for Gunnar Henderson. On a 2-2 fastball from Reds’ starter Luke Weaver, Henderson launched a ball over the shortstop head and into the left-center gap. As the ball rolled all the way into Elrod’s Corner, all three bases runners game around to score and Henderson ended up on third with an RBI-triple.
Gunnar Henderson bases-clearing triple for the lead! pic.twitter.com/3DlWy3MLjL— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) June 28, 2023
Unfortunately, after that big first inning, the O’s bats went silent until the bottom of the 8th. With the Reds now ahead 7-4, it looked like the Orioles were going to continue their offensive woes after two quick outs from Hays and Henderson. However, Aaron Hicks followed that up with a single up the middle and then rookie Jordan Westburg delivered the first extra-base hit of his big league career. The recent call up snuck a ball down the left field line and into the corner, allowing Hicks to score from first and giving Westburg an RBI double. Adam Frazier then stepped to the plate as the tying run, and immediately proceeded to tie the with a two-run shot onto the flag court. Yes, the same Adam Frazier who was hitting .182 in June—that guy.
The O’s then turned the ball over to Félix Baustista. Despite not factoring into the decision or getting a save, Bautista was nothing short of magic in the 9th inning. He started the inning with a matchup of two of the biggest talents in the game, as he stared down Elly De La Cruz. The Reds rookie sensation got the better of Bautista as he hit a hard grounder to deep third and legged out an infield single. De La Cruz then stole 2B and Nick Senzel tried to sacrifice him over to third, but instead bunted the ball over Bautista for an infield single.
That’s when the magic kicked in, as the Mountain threw a 101 mph fastball past Reds great Joey Votto for the first out. Bautista then out did himself against the rookie Spencer Steer, K’ing the first baseman on a 103 mph heater. After getting Kevin Newman to ground out to second to end the inning, Kevin Brown dubbed Bautista “the Magic Mountain”—and it sure felt magical at the time.
Félix Bautista, 101mph & 103mph ⛽️⛽️⛽️ pic.twitter.com/HxaISzd6xe— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 29, 2023
The Orioles offense failed to get anything going in the bottom of the 9th, and Keegan Akin couldn’t keep that magic going in the 10th inning. With the Manfred Man on second, Akin allowed a lead off triple to Will Benson to give the lead back to the Reds. TJ Friedl then came to the plate looking to lift a sac fly to score Benson, and instead lifted an Akin fastball into the right field bleachers—giving the Reds a 10-7 lead. Cincinnati got their final run off a comedy of error, as Luke Maile double to deep-right center, advanced on an error by Mullins and scored on an Akin wild pitch.
Things didn’t get much better for the O’s in the bottom of the 10th. Hays started the inning by reaching on an infield single to give Baltimore two base runners—but then Henderson then struck out for the third time in the game. Hicks looked like he had loaded the bases after appearing to get hit on the hand by a 3-1 fastball—but the ump ruled that the ball first hit the knob of his bat and he struck out on the 3-2 pitch. Finally, the game came to an end after Westburg failed to check his swing on an 0-2 splitter in the dirt.
The Orioles trailed through much of the game thanks to another poor start from Kyle Gibson. The O’s starter came in looking to rebound from his worst start of the season last Friday against Seattle. However, the same problems he ran into against the Mariners popped up against Cincinnati. In a lot of ways, Gibson suffered from bad luck. The Reds led off the first inning with a bloop single into a triangle of Orioles fielders. Cincinnati’s first run came home when De La Cruz singled just past Adam Frazier into RF. Joey Votto drove in the third run of the 1st inning on a ground out hit right at Frazier, but hit too softly to turn a would-be inning-ending double play.
After the Orioles offense erased the first-inning deficit Gibson gave them, he unfortunately couldn’t reward their efforts. The 12-year vet gave up a lead-off double to left fielder Will Benson in the top of the 2nd, and things unraveled from there. TJ Friedl immediately brought Benson home, singling off the diving glove of Adam Frazier, as the Reds tied things at four. Gibson then gave up another single to right to Matt McLain, allowing Friedl to move up to third. Jonathan India then restored the Reds lead with an RBI groundout and McLain later scored on Jake Fraley’s single into RF.
Gibby settled in after that, but overall it was another uninspiring start for a starter that had been a model of consistency for Baltimore. The right-hander’s final line finished at 4.2 innings, nine hits allowed, six earned runs and five Ks. Gibson now has a 12.91 ERA over his last two starts—by far the worst stretch of his Orioles’ career. With 10 games left before the All-Star break, he should have two more starts to turn things around, but this is certainly an unfortunate way for Gibson to head into July.
Dropping this series against Cincinnati certainly stings, as both games the Orioles lost felt incredibly winnable. As is this case with this Orioles team though, the bats simply weren’t loud enough often enough, and relievers not named Félix Baustista are liable to give up runs at inopportune moments. Even with the back to back losses, the O’s still sit with the 3rd best record in the AL and three very winnable series paving their path into the All-Star break. So rest up Birdland and let’s find new reasons to be proud of this team when they take on the Twins on Friday.