BALTIMORE—Cedric Mullins trotted out to center field alone just before the top of the ninth inning. It’s a special honor saved for his rare accomplishments.
After Mullins became the first Oriole to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season in 2021, he celebrated that way, and on Friday night, when he became just the seventh Oriole to hit for the cycle, his teammates let the moment be his.
“It’s cool. I immediately knew as soon as the third out was made they were doing that. They went on and sent me out there,” Mullins said. “They had a great crowd out there today and to be able to share the moment with a lot of people is fun.”
Mullins singled in the third, tripled in the fifth, doubled in the seventh, and with the Orioles ahead by a run in the eighth, hit a three-run home run.
He joins Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr., Aubrey Huff, Felix Pie, Jonathan Villar and Austin Hays as the only Orioles to hit for the cycle.
“You obviously know that you’re a single swing away from a cycle and at the same time, you’re trying to get a job done, drive some runs in, and everything fell in line,” Mullins said.
The lively crowd of 25,682 at Camden Yards cheered Mullins and he doffed his cap and waved it to thank the fans for their appreciation.
“That’s a highly anticipated moment there,” Mullins said. “It was huge for me to come through for the team.”
First, there was a ballgame to win. With a 6-2 lead in the ninth, Austin Voth didn’t retire any of the three batters he faced. After Jack Suwinski’s RBI single cut the lead to 6-3, Félix Bautista struck out Connor Joe, Rodolfo Castro and Ji-Hwan Bae for his ninth save, and the Orioles had the 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The win gave the Orioles a 25-13 record, and they’re at a season-high 12 games over .500 for the second time.
With the Orioles ahead 3-2 in the eighth, Austin Hays was on first with two outs when Terrin Vavra walked with two outs, allowing Mullins his chance.
“We were yelling before that inning started, ‘Let’s get Ced up,’” manager Brandon Hyde said. “What a special night for Cedric. What a great player.
“That was one we needed, for sure, and we were having such a tough time extending leads and putting distance between other clubs … You look at how far he’s come as a player, it’s unbelievable. He showed you tonight why he’s an All-Star-type player and he’s so valuable to us and why he’s such a great player.”
Hays had the last Orioles cycle on June 22nd, 2022.
“I was able to stand at third base and watch that ball go out,” Hays said. “That was a special moment for him and a special moment for me, too, to see him get to complete that—especially with a homer, too, and he did it at home. You can’t script it any better than that.”
Hays and Mullins have played together for years, and because of that, the moment was especially sweet.
“We were roommates in the minor leagues,” Hays said. “We’ve had our struggles together. We’ve had successes together. To be able to share hitting for the cycle on the same team, the team that we were both drafted by and came up together in the minor leagues, it’s very special. I’m really happy for him tonight. That was awesome.”
Mullins saved a run in the top of the seventh when he made an outstanding diving catch on Jack Suwinski’s liner, and Joe followed with a homer against Danny Coulombe to give Pittsburgh (21-18) a 2-1 lead.
Mullins doubled with one out in the seventh and scored on Adley Rutschman’s double against Jose Hernández (0-1). With two outs, Ryan Mountcastle, who had tripled and scored the Orioles’ first run in the sixth, singled against Duane Underwood Jr. for a 3-2 lead.
Bryan Baker (3-0) retired all three batters he faced in the eighth.
The Pirates have lost 10 of 11.
Bae led off the third with an infield single against Kyle Bradish. He moved to second on a wild pitch and third on an infield out by Austin Hedges. Bae broke for home when Ke’Bryan Hayes grounded to Jorge Mateo at short. Mateo’s throw home was wild, and Bae scored on the error.
Mountcastle tripled down the right-field line against Johan Oviedo in the sixth. After Adam Frazier walked, Dauri Moreta struck out Austin Hays, and with Gunnar Henderson up, Mountcastle scored on a wild pitch to tie it at 1.
Bradish allowed one unearned run on three hits in six innings.
The Orioles began selling tickets for their “Bird Bath,” in section 86, next to the bullpens where fans get sprayed in celebration of extra-base hits. Things were quiet for the first four innings, but that was the place to be for Mullins’ special home run.
“It seemed like they enjoyed it out there, no doubt about it,” Hyde said. “Haysy said it was pretty wild in left field. Anything that brings energy and excitement to the ballpark, I think it’s great.”
In left field, Hays had a good view of the new promotion, and its mascot.
“Mr. Splash was letting it fly out there,” Hays said. “I know the fans were loving it. They were extra riled up tonight, so give that guy a raise tonight. He was electric for the boys.”
Notes: Hyde said that Yennier Cano was not available to pitch but would be ready for Saturday. … Tyler Wells (2-1, 3.15) will face Roansy Contreras (3-3, 4.74) on Saturday night.
Minor league update: Shortstop Jordan Westburg and first baseman Lewin Díaz each drove in two runs as Triple-A Norfolk beat Jacksonville, 8-4.
Ryan Watson (3-1) threw four shutout innings in relief, allowing one hit.
Garrett Stallings pitched five scoreless innings, allowing two hits, in Double-A Bowie’s 3-2 loss at Harrisburg.
Kyle Virbitsky allowed six runs on eight hits in three innings as High-A Aberdeen lost to Hudson Valley, 9-7. Virbitsky relieved Alex Pham, who pitched five scoreless innings of one-hit ball and struck out 11.
Infielder Frederick Bencosme had three hits.
Designated hitter Samuel Basallo drove in three runs as Single-A Delmarva beat Down East, 7-2.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB