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Orioles bounce back from four-run hole, secure series, but Mullins leaves injured in 6-5 win

Kyle Gibson gutted through 5.1 subpar innings, the bullpen was dominant, and the offense fought back from an early deficit.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles overcame a wild and somewhat worrying second inning to storm back and beat the visiting Marlins 6-5 at a hot and humid Camden Yards on Saturday night.

A whole lot of action took place in that second inning.

It started with the second pitch of the frame. Jesús Sánchez smacked a single back up the middle off of Kyle Gibson’s ankle. The O’s starter shook it off and stayed in the game, but looked rather rocky the rest of the way.

The next three Miami hitters also singled to jump out to a 2-0 lead. That included a soft single into center field that allowed Sánchez to run on Cedric Mullins’ arm and scoot around to third base, and then a bouncer between shortstop and third base that Jorge Mateo probably should have come up with, but it wasn’t a gimme out by any means.

Gibson then induced two straight ground balls. The first was a dribbler that third baseman Gunnar Henderson picked up with his bare hand and fired over to first for an out. The second went right to a drawn in Jordan Westburg at second base. The rookie decided to go home with the throw instead of taking the out, but it didn’t work out. The throw was wide to the first base side of home plate, and everyone was safe while Miami led 3-0.

That lead was pushed to four runs when Luis Arraez singled into right field to score Joey Wendle from third base. Gibson would wriggle out of the inning shortly thereafter, but boy was it ugly.

Things got both better and worse for the Orioles in their half of the second.

The good news was that they scored three runs. Ryan Mountcastle opened with a double, Aaron Hicks walked, and then Mullins singled to get the Birds on the board. Later on Jorge Mateo hit a hard line drive into centerfield that perplexed Dane Myers out there and went right over his head. Two runners scored and Mateo made it all the way to third for his first triple of the season, although he had to wait for the original “out” call to be overturned.

The bad news was that Mullins left with an injury. During Westburg’s at bat that inning he launched a long fly fall to right field. For the longest time it looked destined to bang off the out-of-town scoreboard, so the runners aboard (including Mullins) were booking it around the bases. Unfortunately the ball went foul, and Mullins came up hobbled. He exited the game, Colton Cowser came on to run, and Westburg ultimately struck out.

MASN’s commentators did relay during the game that it was not a reaggravation of the groin injury that cost Mullins most of June, but was rather a right quadriceps issue. As of this writing it’s unclear if that is better or worse, but an injury of any kinda is never ideal.

Should Mullins require an IL stint, the timing is actually OK for the Orioles. The team probably needed to call up a reliever sometime soon anyway as they have been playing an arm short since Mountcastle was activated. But obviously, they would rather have their everyday centerfielder. Cowser, Hicks, and maybe even Austin Hays are likely to share the position in the interim. We may learn a lot from the lineup deployed in the series finale.

Back to this game!

Miami returned to scoring in the fourth inning. Myers and Arraez led off with back-to-back singles. That eventually allowed Bryan De La Cruz to score Myers on a sacrifice fly to center field and make it 5-3.

The O’s clawed one run back in the bottom of the fifth inning. Adley Rutschman doubled down the left field line with two outs before Anthony Santander singled up the middle to bring him home and make it a one-run game once again.

It also knocked starter Braxton Garrett out of the game. The lefty had only thrown 81 pitches, but the O’s were hitting him around a decent amount, and he was not getting nearly as many whiffs as he’s used to. The quality of stuff wasn’t quite as high as he’s used to.

Gibson would go just a bit long, being yanked after 5.1 innings following another Arraez base hit. It was a bad start for the veteran righty. Obviously, his second inning was disastrous, and he also was not getting many swings and misses. According to Baseball Savant he had just four whiffs all night. His velocity and spin were down across the board, perhaps some post-all star break hangover that needs to wear off.

The Orioles aren’t going to make rash decisions about their pitching staff. Gibson deserves some credit for bouncing back from a poor second inning, but on the whole he has been the weak link in the rotation for more than a month now. Should the Orioles make the needed move for a top tier pitcher, or even re-promote Grayson Rodriguez, the 35-year-old Gibson cannot simply hold onto his current role due to service time alone. The performance needs to come around.

Mike Baumann came on from there and delivered 1.2 scoreless innings. The lone hit he allowed was a triple that Cowser really should have caught in deep right-centerfield. It hit off his glove as he was feeling for the wall. But the big righty managed to pitch out of it anyway.

That kept things close so that Henderson could launch the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the seventh inning onto the flag court in right field, tying things up at five runs apiece. The kid can swing it a little bit!

But the Birds didn’t stop there. They just kept beating up on poor reliever Huascar Brazoban. Hays singled up the middle with one out, Rutschman gave them runners on the corners with a knock into right field, and Santander put the O’s ahead with an RBI single into right field. It would have been nice to add a few “insurance” runs from there, but to go from down a run to up a run in one inning is still pretty good.

Brandon Hyde turned things over to the late-inning duo from there.

First up was Yennier Cano. He retired the first two batters he faced, gave up a double to Arraez (of course) and then had a rematch with Jorge Soler, who homered off him on Friday night. Soler took another ball for a ride here, but it was to the deepest part of the park, where it found Cowser’s glove to end the inning.

Then it was time for The Mountain. Félix Bautista needed just 10 pitches to retire the Marlins in order and secure the series win with one game to go. He had his good stuff, so there was little worry of any other outcome.

What a win! That second inning was doozy. They went down by four runs, Gibson was struggling, and then Mullins got hurt. Yikes. But then they did what they have done all year: persevered, stayed competitive, and ultimately snagged the win.

Henderson was immense tonight. Not only did he have the tying homer, but he also played some slick defense at both third base and shortstop, charging in for a handful of choppers and showing off his arm strength. The AL Rookie of the Year might still be within his reach.

And this game showed that the number of options Hyde has at his disposal each night is rather mind boggling. Mullins gets hurt, so they just send one of their top prospects in to play center. Mountcastle starts against a lefty, but they can lift him for Ryan O’Hearn and his .887 OPS when a right-handed relievers comes in. Adam Frazier was the hero on Friday, doesn’t start, but then gets two at bats later on once the starter is knocked out. It’s a whole lot to juggle, but the results are exactly what you want.

Unfortunately, the Rays won both of their games against the Royals today, so the Orioles actually lost half a game amidst all the action, going back to two games back in the division. But that is of little concern with a four-game set between the two teams looming next week.

This series is supposed to wrap up on Sunday afternoon. Kyle Bradish (5-4, 3.32 ERA) is on the bump for the Birds, but the opposing hurler is yet to be identified. First pitch is set for 1:35 provided it doesn’t get washed out entirely by a rainy forecast.


Who was the Most Birdland Player for July 15, 2023?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Mike Baumann (win, 1.2 scoreless relief innings)
    (74 votes)
  • 6%
    Félix Bautista (save, perfect inning against heart of order)
    (54 votes)
  • 55%
    Gunnar Henderson (tying home run)
    (484 votes)
  • 16%
    Anthony Santander (2 RBI, go-ahead base hit)
    (139 votes)
  • 13%
    Jorge Mateo (clutch triple, 2 RBI)
    (116 votes)
867 votes total Vote Now