BALTIMORE—Cedric Mullins took a special place in Baltimore Orioles history on Friday night when he joined the 30-30 club, the first Oriole to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in a season.
Mullins stands alone after hitting his 30th home run of the season with two men on base in the bottom of the second inning against the Texas Rangers on Friday night at Camden Yards.
It gave the Orioles a 4-2 lead, one they would increase to 5-3 going into the ninth inning. But Texas scored five runs in the ninth to beat the Orioles, 8-5, before an announced crowd of 7,935.
Mullins, who hadn’t hit a home run since September 11th, hit a 1-1 pitch from the Rangers’ Spencer Howard (0-5) over the center-field wall.
“There were moments when I knew I was going against the clock a little bit,” Mullins said. “I was trying to hit a line drive over short, and it resulted in a homer.”
The fans wanted a curtain call, and Mullins obliged. As he trotted out to center field for the third inning, he was saluted on the video board and applauded by his teammates, who remained in the dugout to allow Mullins to take the field alone.
“That experience, the curtain call, the trip around the bases, going out on the field, the guys let me have that moment and just kind of let me have a breather in that situation. It was awesome.”
Mullins, who came up to the Orioles on August 10th, 2018 to replace Adam Jones as the team’s centerfielder, had an awful first month of the 2019 season when he went 6-for-64 (.094) and was demoted — first to Triple-A Norfolk, then to Double-A Bowie.
Last season, he earned his way back to the Orioles and hit .271 with three home runs and seven steals in 48 games before his emergence as the American League All-Star centerfielder and likely winner of the Most Valuable Oriole award.
“I always felt I had 30 bags in me,” Mullins said of the stolen bases. “The homers is something I envisioned if my power clicked like it has. It’s an amazing feat, my proudest moment. It’s just awesome and surreal.”
Mullins, who abandoned switch-hitting during the offseason to become a full-time left-handed hitter, didn’t start to display his power until well into April. He was batting .346 after 21 games, but had just one home run. He had 16 home runs by the All-Star break when he replaced the injured Mike Trout in center for the American League.
He’d hit 13 in the second half of the season but stalled on 29, and he thought about it.
“It’s kind of hard for it not to be,” Mullins said. Once Ryan Mountcastle hit his 29th home run to break Cal Ripken Jr.’s record for most homers by an Orioles rookie, and then added his 30th and 31st, he encouraged Mullins.
“He’d say it was my turn,” Mullins said. “There was a lot of buzz going around, kind of hard to not listen and be a part of it. You don’t want to run away from doing something very special.”
Mountcastle, Mullins and Austin Hays have known each other since their minor league days.
“He’s extremely well-liked,” manager Brandon Hyde said about Mullins. “He’s an incredible guy. His teammates love him. They also know the journey that he’s gone through with adversity. He’s done this from the first day of the season. Incredibly consistent, good at-bats every night, amazing at-bats. It was cool to watch somebody be so consistent and so good for so long.
“It’s a hard game at the major league level, the pitching we face … watching him night in and night out, he is so professional and he’s just really come into his own this year in so many ways. He’s matured in so many ways. It’s fun for all of our guys, especially the guys who’ve played with him for a long time.”
Ninth-inning collapse: Even though Rangers centerfielder Leody Taveras took away a home run from Pedro Severino and leftfielder DJ Peters jumped high at the wall to take another way from Pat Valaika, the Orioles led, 5-3, going into the ninth, setting up a happy ending to Mullins’ night. But the Rangers spoiled it. Peters began a five-run rally when he tripled against Tyler Wells, who left with discomfort in his right shoulder. Hyde said that he would be reevaluated on Saturday.
Connor Greene (1-3) retired Willie Calhoun on a fly to center as Peters scored. Taveras was safe on a bunt single and Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s roller went for a hit. With runners on first and second, Andy Ibañez walked to load the bases.
Adolis Garcia doubled to score Taveras and Kiner-Falefa, and Texas (56-98) took a 6-5 lead. Lowe hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Ibañez, and a double steal allowed Garcia to score for an 8-5 Rangers lead.
Josh Sborz (4-3) pitched the eighth inning, and Joe Barlow pitched the ninth for his eighth save.
The evening also didn’t start out well for the Orioles. Nathaniel Lowe hit a two-run home run against Alexander Wells in the first to put Texas up, 2-0.
The Orioles (49-105) bounced back in the second. Severino scored when Richie Martin hit into a forceout. Kelvin Gutiérrez singled, and then Mullins delivered to put the Orioles ahead, 4-2.
Peters hit an RBI single in the fourth to cut the Orioles lead to 4-3.
Ryan McKenna, who had struck out three times, scored Mountcastle with a single in the eighth inning to put the Orioles ahead, 5-3.
Wells gave up three runs on five hits in five innings. Dillon Tate, Fernando Abad, Joey Krehbiel and Cole Sulser combined for three scoreless innings.
Notes: Chris Ellis (1-0, 2.39 ERA) will face the Rangers’ Jordan Lyles (9-12, 5.36) on Saturday night. … Austin Hays has a 10-game hitting streak. … Krehbiel, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before the game, is the 61st player used by the Orioles this season.
Bowie eliminated: Bo Naylor’s bases-loaded single scored Bryan Rocchio with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as Akron completed a three-game sweep of the Double-A Northeast Championship Series with a 6-5 win over Bowie at Akron.
With the Baysox ahead, 5-4, Will Brennan led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run against Diogenes Almengo.
Rocchio walked, and Jose Fermin advanced him to second on a bunt. Rocchio moved to third on a wild pitch. Almengo walked the next two batters intentionally. With two outs, Naylor singled to left for the win for the Cleveland Indians Double-A affiliate.
Drew Rom pitched five scoreless innings and Logan Gillaspie pitched the sixth and seventh as Bowie took a 5-0 lead before Akron scored four runs against Morgan McSweeney in the eighth.
Bowie, which was hitless through four innings, scored two runs in the fifth when designated hitter Jordan Westburg reached on a error, allowing two runs to score.
Catcher Cody Roberts hit an RBI single in the sixth to give the Baysox a 3-0 lead. Centerfielder Zach Watson hit a two-run double to put Bowie ahead 5-0 in the sixth.
Kyle Bradish and Cody Sedlock combined on a five-hit shutout as Norfolk beat Charlotte, 7-0. Bradish gave up two hits in five innings, striking out five and walking two. Sedlock allowed three hits in four innings and picked up his first save.
Rightfielder Kyle Stowers had four hits. Centerfielder Zach Jarrett hit his 10th home run.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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