Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson did a fine enough job his first two times through the Orioles lineup. Baltimore chased Hudson in the fifth with the Cardinals clinging to a one-run lead, and Cedric Mullins greeted the reliever the best way he knew how. Mullins turned the game with a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth, and the Orioles beat the Cardinals 11-5 in the first of three games at Camden Yards.
The big inning began with a pair of singles by Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson. Anthony Santander struck out, but Ryan O’Hearn followed with a line drive up the middle. Cardinals center fielder Tommy Edman attempted to make a diving catch, but nobody would confuse him with Jim Edmonds tonight.
The ball bounced in front of Edman and the outfielder failed to trap it cleanly. Rutschman raced home, and both Henderson and O’Hearn landed in scoring position. Ryan Mountcastle worked a walk to load the bases, and St. Louis skipper Oliver Marmol turned to his bullpen.
The Cardinals sent out right-hander Andre Pallante to face Mullins, and the former All-Star made the Red Birds pay. Mullins turned on a 1-2 slider and got just enough of it. The ball sailed 370 feet and cleared the wall just left of the tall scoreboard in right field. The blast provided Baltimore the lead for good.
The grand slam put an end to the back-and-forth baseball played over the first five frames. St. Louis snagged an early lead after a pair of two-out walks and a single by Willson Contreras.
Baltimore countered with a pair of runs in the second inning. Mullins managed a two-out single, and Aaron Hicks followed with a ball to center. Mullins raced to third and beat the throw, while Hicks elected to break for second. Nolan Arenado appeared to have Hicks dead to rights for the third out, but his throw sailed wide of the bag. The error allowed Mullins to race home for the Orioles’ first run of the game.
Adam Frazier took ball four to place two runners on base, and Ramón Urías took advantage of the RBI opportunity. Urías lined a ball to center for Baltimore’s first lead of the contest.
Dean Kremer attempted to record a shutdown inning but failed to deliver. Kremer allowed a leadoff double to Lars Nootbaar, and Nootbaar easily stole third as Kremer struckout Paul Goldschmidt. Kremer issued his fourth walk of the game to Nolan Gorman, and Arenado evened the score at two with an RBI-single.
Wilson Contreras drove in Gorman with a soft infield single, and Jordan Walker drove in the fourth run with a single to left.
Kremer worked a scoreless fourth but exited after recording only one out in the fifth inning. He allowed seven hits, five earned runs, walked four and managed only two strikeouts in the game. His short outing required the Orioles to utilize five relievers a day before John Means returns to the mound.
Hicks helped steal another run with more aggressive baserunning in the fourth inning. Hicks turned on the jets after what could have been a routine single with two outs. The veteran outfielder beat the throw to second and came around to score on a single by Frazier.
Henderson provided some insurance by walloping a curveball 422 feet to right-center. The 22-year-old padded his Rookie of the Year campaign with his 25th homer of the season.
Austin Hays tacked on the final two runs with a single in the eighth. Hays plated Rutschman and Henderson after impressing with another diving catch in the top half of the inning. Rutschman and Henderson scored five of Baltimore’s 11 runs.
DL Hall allowed an inherited runner to score after replacing Kremer, but the 24-year-old settled in for an inning and a third. Jacob Webb recorded three outs without allowing a run, and Jorge López kept Webb’s line clean after securing the third out in the seventh.
Danny Coulombe recorded a pair of outs, and Shintaro Fujinami settled in after a pair of extremely high fastballs to start the ninth.
The victory marked the Orioles 91st win of the year and reduced the magic number for the playoffs to four. The game clinched another series without getting swept raising the active streak to 86.
Who was the most Birdland player on September 11th?
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Gunnar Henderson (3-for 5, 3 runs scored, 25th homer of the season)
Cedric Mullins (2-for-3, BB, 2 runs, go-ahead grand slam)
Aaron Hicks (3-for-4, 2 runs, aggressive base running)