BALTIMORE—Entering the eighth inning, the Orioles looked lifeless. They hadn’t scored and had just five hits against the Kansas City Royals.
The 5-0 deficit looked insurmountable, but 12 batters, 69 pitches and a dropped fly ball later, the Orioles had managed to score nine runs and held on for an improbable 9-8 victory Wednesday night before an announced crowd of 4,965 — the lowest full-capacity crowd in the history of Oriole Park, 16 fewer than Tuesday night.
To add to the unlikelihood of the comeback, Manny Barreda, who was making his major league debut after 15 seasons in professional baseball, picked up the win after pitching a perfect eighth. The night before, rookie Mike Baumann earned the win in relief in his major league debut. According to STATS, the Orioles are the first team in the modern era to have relievers win consecutive games in their debuts.
Royals pitcher Joel Payamps, who had struck out the side in the seventh, walked Cedric Mullins to start the eighth for the Orioles. Ryan Mountcastle followed with a single, and Austin Hays extended his hitting streak to 15 games with an RBI double.
Joel Staumont walked Pedro Severino to load the bases, and Mountcastle scored on a single to right by Anthony Santander. With the bases still loaded, DJ Stewart got jammed on a 3-2 pitch and popped to first. Ramón Urias, playing for the first time since Sunday because of upper leg soreness, tapped a pinch-hit single to right to score Hays.
Jake Brentz struck out Jahmai Jones looking for the second out, but Kelvin Gutierrez’s third hit, a two-run single to center, tied the score, 5-5.
Mullins followed with a fly ball to right-center that Hunter Dozier, who had just come in to play right field, appeared ready to catch to end the inning until centerfielder Edward Olivares came into his path, causing them to bump. It also seemed to cause Dozier to drop the ball for a two-base error as Urías and Gutierrez scored for a 7-5 Orioles lead.
“We caught a break. We don’t get many of those usually,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said.
Mountcastle then hit his 26th homer to left, and it was 9-5.
“It took us eight innings to put some at-bats together,” Hyde said. “We were pretty flat offensively … You string a few at-bats together and there was momentum, and that’s something we’ve had a tough time with this year, especially, to be able to put together, three, four at-bats together in a row. That’s how you create rallies.”
“It was awesome,” Mountcastle said. “It was a great win. We didn’t give up. It’s very easy to do that, especially this late in the year. It hasn’t been the best year, but for us to battle back and win was huge.”
It turned out that the Orioles needed Mountcastle’s home run. Dillon Tate hit Olivares to start the ninth. Whit Merrifield singled and, with two outs and two strikes, Andrew Benintendi homered to right to reduce the Orioles’ lead to 9-8.
Tyler Wells was summoned and retired Carlos Santana on a grounder to Urías to end the game for his second save. Barreda got the win.
“Baseball-wise, this is obviously the pinnacle of my career right now,” Barreda said. “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for since I was a little kid.
“It was amazing watching guys taking great at-bats. It was destined to be. God put me here today so I could throw the eighth, and we could score nine runs.”
The Orioles (45-93) have won four of five and are 7-7 since the end of a 19-game losing streak.
“It’s good to see young guys not giving up, not giving in on the season,” Oriole starter Matt Harvey said.
Nicky Lopez singled with one out in the first against Harvey and scored on a one-out single by Benintendi.
The Royals (63-76) took a 2-0 lead in the third. With one out Merrifield doubled, stole third and scored on a wild throw by Severino.
Kansas City took a 4-0 lead in the fourth. Michael A. Taylor singled, a bunt by Olivares moved him to second, and he went to third on a single by Merrifield. Lopez doubled to score Taylor and, after Salvador Perez was walked intentionally, Fernando Abad replaced Harvey.
Merrifield scored on a grounder to first by Benintendi as Mountcastle’s throw home was not in time.
Perez hit his 42nd home run against Marcos Diplán in the seventh.
“Everybody’s trying to finish the year strong and finish on a good note so that they can show that they belong, or they are close to belonging,” Harvey said. “That’s what September’s about if you’re not in the playoffs is having guys around that can come in and pick up some of the other guys who are a little tired and show what they can do, and they’re doing a good job of that.”
Notes: John Means (5-6, 3.47) faces Carlos Hernández (5-1, 3.57) on Thursday night. …Barreda is the 58th player used by the Orioles this season, equaling the franchise record set in 2019. He’s the 16th player to make his debut for the Orioles this season, setting a new mark. … Barreda (32 years, 335 days) is the fourth-oldest player to make his Oriole debut, and he’s the third pitcher this year over 30 to make his major league debut. Mickey Jannis and Dusten Knight are the others.
Minor League update: Kevin Smith (3-5) allowed five runs in four innings in Triple-A Norfolk’s 9-3 loss to Durham. Centerfielder Zach Jarrett hit his ninth home run.
Gray Fenter pitched six scoreless innings, allowing four hits, as Double-A Bowie beat Harrisburg, 2-0, in the first game of a doubleheader. Fenter (5-4) struck out three and walked one.
David Lebron and Matt Conroy combined to limit Harrisburg to three hits in the Bowie’s 1-0 win in the second game, which was ended after six innings because of rain. Conroy (1-2) pitched two innings. Bowie’s only run came on designated hitter Andrew Daschbach’s fifth home run.
First baseman TT Bowens hit his second home run and shortstop Gunnar Henderson hit his eighth in Single-A Aberdeen’s 9-3 win over Wilmington. Houston Roth (1-2) pitched 1 2/3 spotless innings and Jake Lyons pitched four shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out five, for his first save.
Colton Cowser had three hits, and third baseman Coby Mayo had two as Low-A Delmarva lost to Fredericksburg, 5-3. Cowser, the team’s No. 1 draft pick, is hitting .348. Ty Blach started and allowed a run on two hits. Shane Davis (4-6) allowed four runs, three unearned, in four innings.