BALTIMORE—The Orioles were on their way to a shutout loss to the Cleveland Guardians when centerfielder Cedric Mullins pulled up at first base in the eighth inning with what manager Brandon Hyde called a right abductor groin strain.
Mullins, who is hitting .263 with eight home runs and 39 RBIs, grounded to shortstop and after he gingerly crossed first base, Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel accompanied him as he left the field.
“Going through all the tests right now, hoping for great news, but never know,” Hyde said. “It’s the last thing you want to see. He’s a huge part of our team. If we’re going to miss him for a little while, we’ll see. If we have to, other guys step up. This is part of the game. We’ve been pretty fortunate so far this year. These things happen.”
Mullins, who has played in 53 of the Orioles’ 54 games, can’t be easily replaced. Austin Hays and Ryan McKenna can both play center field. Colton Cowser, a top minor league prospect, is on Triple-A Norfolk’s injured left with a strained left quad, and Kyle Stowers, who’s had two stints with the Orioles, is on the Tides’ injured list with left shoulder inflammation.
Daz Cameron is currently playing center field for Norfolk and is hitting .267 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs. He’s not on the 40-man roster, but the Orioles have an open spot. Cameron played 73 games with Detroit in the last three seasons.
Mullins’ injury made the Orioles’ 5-0 loss to the Cleveland Guardians before an announced crowd of 25,249 at Camden Yards even worse.
The Orioles have lost three of four since coming home and did nothing against Cleveland (24-29) starter Logan Allen, who allowed just three hits and struck out 10 in seven innings.
Anthony Santander had three of the Orioles’ five hits, two singles against Allen (2-2), and a double in the ninth against Trevor Stephan.
“He works ahead in the count. He was attacking us from pitch one,” Hyde said. “We just had a tough time squaring the ball up against him.”
Oriole starter Tyler Wells (3-2) allowed a run on four hits in six innings, and once he left the game, Cleveland scored four runs against Cionel Pérez in the seventh.
Will Brennan doubled in the fifth and was balked to third. He scored on Cam Gallagher’s sacrifice fly to center.
Wells struck out seven, and for the third time this season, didn’t walk a batter. He was hesitant to speak about Mullins.
“If we lose him, it’s going to be a blow, but at the same time, we have a lot of resilient guys in there that will step up for him,” Wells said. “I think we’ll continue to play it out. I think Ced’s going to be fine.”
Pérez allowed four straight hits in the seventh. Gallagher’s single and Steven Kwan’s double scored two runs. After Pérez was relieved by Mike Baumann, Amed Rosario bounced to second. Adam Frazier’s throw home was wild, and two more runs scored on the error giving Cleveland (24-29) a 5-0 lead.
In the ninth, the Orioles (34-20) got two runners on against Trevor Stephan. After Santander’s double, Ryan Mountcastle singled him to third, but they couldn’t score.
Hyde, who was managing his 600th game, didn’t start Gunnar Henderson or Adley Rutschman. Henderson pinch-hit in the ninth, and Rutschman was on deck when the game ended. It was the first game this season that Rutschman didn’t play.
Mullins has never been on the injured list, and the Orioles haven’t had an outfielder on the IL since 2021.
“He’s a huge part of our team,” McKenna said. “You see somebody pull up like that, you assume with his leg or just a cramp or something like that. I know he’s getting taken care of and he’ll be back as soon as he can.”
McKenna will get more playing time in center with Mullins out, but that’s not the way he wants to get it.
“You hate to see anybody go down,” he said. “Cedric is one of the biggest pieces of the team and one of the biggest drivers of us winning this year, and this winning season. It’s going to be a loss for our team. I prepare the same way I can. If I’m going to be in the lineup more, I’m going to be in the lineup more, I’ll be ready and prepared to do so.”
Notes: Kyle Gibson (6-3, 3.82) will face Cal Quantril (2-3, 4.75) on Tuesday night at 7:05. Hyde said that Austin Voth will either start or pitch in bulk relief on Wednesday afternoon. … Hyde is sixth on the Orioles’ managerial tenure list, trailing Earl Weaver, Buck Showalter, Paul Richards, Hank Bauer and Mike Hargrove. Hyde will pass Hargrove in late July. … After beginning the season 13-0 in series openers, the Orioles have lost three straight and four of five.