BALTIMORE—There was a palpable energy around Oriole Park on Wednesday night. With the Orioles owning a 19-game losing streak, an announced crowd of 15,867 came to a weeknight game — many to see Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani pitch rather than the Orioles try to avoid a 20-game skid.
The lively crowd was rewarded. They got to watch Ohtani throw five innings and allow a career-high three homers. They also got to watch him strike out three times at the plate.
But what had them on their feet at the end was a five-run Orioles eighth inning that ended the streak with a 10-6 win over the Angels.
The Orioles’ bullpen was superb. In the final six innings, Conner Greene, Cole Sulser, Dillon Tate (5-4) Tanner Scott and Tyler Wells combined to allow just one hit. They gave the Orioles a chance to come back from a 6-2 deficit, and the Orioles took advantage of it.
It was the Orioles’ first win since August 2nd, and their first at home since July 28th.
“It’s electric in there,” Cedric Mullins said of the Orioles’ clubhouse. “Coming off a crazy streak, the team continued to grind every single day. I know it looked like it was going to be the big 2-0 today. We fought back, continued to grind, and was able to hold it for a few innings.”
The Orioles trailed, 6-5, heading into the eighth. Trey Mancini led off with a single. Anthony Santander doubled him to third. DJ Stewart was intentionally walked by Jake Petricka (0-1). Ramón Urias walked to score Mancini with the tying run.
James Hoyt struck out Jahmai Jones. Hoyt walked Kelvin Gutiérrez to score Santander with the go-ahead run.
Austin Hays, batting for Austin Wynns, doubled to left, scoring two, and the Orioles (39-86) led, 9-6. Mullins’ sacrifice fly scored Gutiérrez to make it 10-6.
“It felt like postseason pressure,” manager Brandon Hyde. “I’ve never experienced a middle-of-August game with a couple of teams that aren’t in the postseason hunt … There was tension, there was pressure. Everybody was on the top step. Our guys just really wanted this one.
“We’re tired of hearing. We’re tired of seeing it on TV. Everybody’s tired of it.”
To help end the streak, Wynns ordered some sage online, and he and Mancini walked throughout the ballpark, sprinkling it in critical places.
“It smelled kind of weird, but the sage kicked in,” Mullins. “I saw him wafting it around the batting cage when I was hitting, and I was like, ‘smart man.’”
Mancini and Wynns took about 15 minutes to apply the streak-breaker. “We saged everything we possibly could,” Mancini said. “It worked.”
Ohtani had never allowed more than one homer in a game, but in the first inning he served up Mullins’ 22nd on his first pitch, and Santander’s 14th for a 2-0 lead.
Chris Ellis, whom the Orioles acquired last week on waivers from Tampa Bay after he threw four scoreless, one-hit innings against them, made his first appearance and his initial major league start. He struck out Ohtani twice but allowed three runs. Brandon Marsh tied the game, 2-2, with a two-run single in the second.
Hyde removed Ellis after Jared Walsh’s 23rd home run gave Los Angeles (63-65) a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Marcos Diplán, who came into the game with just one run allowed in his first eight appearances, couldn’t retire a single batter. Marsh hit a three-run homer for a 6-2 Angels lead.
Stewart hit a two-run homer against Ohtani in the bottom of the fourth, and the Orioles trailed, 6-4.
Ohtani left after five innings, allowing four runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. He was hitless in four at-bats, striking out three times and grounding out to first.
The Orioles crept closer in the bottom of the seventh. In his second game with the team, Jones led off with a single, his first as an Oriole. Gutiérrez was hit by a pitch by Mike Mayers. Wynns’ bunt moved both runners up, and Jones scored on Mullins’ infield out. Petricka struck out Ryan Mountcastle to end the inning.
That set up the big finish for the Orioles, who won’t have to hear about the 0-21 start in 1988 any longer.
“It’s up to us to go out there and win a game so that it’s not talked about,” Mancini said. “When there’s a streak of that many games, it’s got to be talked about, and you can’t get mad about it. That’s just the way it is. I wish it didn’t take us this long for it to happen, but I’m glad it’s over.”
Notes: Infielder Jorge Mateo, who left Tuesday’s game with back discomfort, didn’t play. Hyde said he should be back in a day or two. … Keegan Akin (0-8, 7.92 ERA) will face Jaime Barria (2-2, 5.87) on Thursday afternoon at 1:05. … Before the game, Greene was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk. Greene had been lost on a waiver claim to the Dodgers. He had two scoreless outings for them and was reclaimed by the Orioles on Monday. … Mullins has seven leadoff homers, tied for second most in team history. Brady Anderson, who holds the record with 12 in 1996, hit seven in 1999 and 2000.
Minor league update: Kevin Smith allowed three runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings as Norfolk lost to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, 8-2. Smith (2-4) saw his ERA rise to 5.95.
Knuckleballer Mickey Jannis allowed four runs on eight hits in five innings as Double-A Bowie lost to Erie, 6-1. It was the second start for Jannis (0-1) since his demotion from Norfolk. Catcher Cody Roberts had three hits. Second baseman Terrin Vavra homered.
Second baseman A.J. Graffanino’s sacrifice fly scored Cristopher Cespedes with the winning run as High-A Aberdeen beat Brooklyn, 2-1, in eight innings in the first game of a doubleheader. Zach Peek allowed one run on three hits in five innings, striking out five.
Despite holding the Cyclones to two hits in the second game, Aberdeen lost, 1-0. Designated hitter Gunnar Henderson had two hits.
The Salem Red Sox scored seven runs in the seventh on their way to an 8-3 win over Low-A Delmarva. The Orioles’ top two draft choices, Colton Cowser and Connor Norby, each had two hits and drove in a run.
Bowie will open its 2022 schedule on April 8th against Richmond and will play though September 19th.