BALTIMORE—For the foreseeable future, the Orioles won’t have Cedric Mullins leading off and playing center field. On Tuesday night, Adam Frazier led off and Austin Hays played center field while Mullins was on the sidelines with a strained right groin muscle.
The Orioles ran off to a 7-0 lead after two innings and hung on for an 8-5 win over the Cleveland Guardians before an announced crowd of 11,709 at Camden Yards.
Gunnar Henderson had a two-run double in the first, and in the second, Anthony Santander hit a bases-loaded triple on a misplay by Cleveland right ielder Will Brennan. Adley Rutschman had a bases-loaded walk and Hays a sacrifice fly. Henderson also had a run-scoring single in the fifth.
“We hate that he got injured in that way,” Henderson said about Mullins, who was placed on the 10-day injured list. “I feel like we have a great approach and great players behind him. You saw it. We put a lot of runs up today and had our pitcher’s back.”
Cleveland starter Cal Quantrill (2-4) equaled his career high by allowing eight runs.
Oriole starter Kyle Gibson (7-3) retired the first 10 Cleveland (24-30) batters. He allowed a run in the fourth on Josh Bell’s run-scoring single and two in the sixth.
“That’s a tough loss, obviously. Cedric’s one of the best centerfielders in the game, if not the best,” Gibson said. “It was a tough evening and tough news hearing that he was going to miss a little bit of time. Seems he was in good spirits today.
“That goes a long way through the locker room. We can feed off his energy and how he’s approaching the situation. It seems like it’s a pretty favorable timeline for the team, definitely better than it could have been … A rest of the season absence is obviously a lot different than what we’re looking at. I think it’s something we can weather here in the short term.”
Though Santander had three extra-base hits, the triple and a pair of doubles. he was playing too shallow and allowed Josh Naylor to double over his head in right, a play that led to two runs.in the sixth.
Gibson allowed three runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Bryan Baker struck out Brennan to end the sixth but allowed a walk to Mike Zunino and a single to Myles Straw. Danny Coulombe recorded two outs but allowed the two inherited runs to score.
The Orioles (35-20) loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, but Henderson hit into a double play, and they didn’t score.
“It’s a major league baseball game and anything can happen. You try to add on, and we didn’t really do that. You try to hold on and we didn’t do that very well in the sixth and seventh,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
Yennier Cano allowed two hits but didn’t allow a run in 1 1/3 innings, and Félix Bautista pitched a spotless ninth for his 14th save.
In the ninth inning, Hyde intended to send Ryan McKenna into the game to play center, but he went to left instead and played there for two outs before moving to center with Hays moving to left.
“That was unfortunate and I hated the way that looked,” Hyde said. “We’re so used to having Mullins in center field that we just couldn’t get the communication in time. That was a bad look.”
It will be a challenge for the Orioles to play without Mullins.
“I don’t know if you can replace what he brings to the table,” Hays said before the game. “He’s elite in every facet of the game. It’s going to be a group effort to really come together and play as a whole to try to do what we can to fill that void. It’s really a tough loss.”
Notes: Mike Young, who played with the Orioles from 1982-1987, has died at 63, the team announced. The outfielder’s best season came in 1985 when he hit 28 home runs, drove in 81 runs and hit .273. … Santander hit the Orioles’ first bases-loaded triple since Jace Peterson on May 2nd, 2018. … Austin Voth (1-1, 4.10) will either start or pitch in bulk relief against Shane Bieber (4-3, 3.04) on Wednesday afternoon at 3:05.
Elias on Rodriguez: Executive vice president/general manager said this about last weekend’s demotion of right-hander Grayson Rodriguez:
“That was difficult. He had probably about half good starts and half bad starts when he was up here. The thing that tilted it for us. I think he will benefit from this. You look at all these young guys we have here pitching well, Dean [Kremer] and Kyle Bradish, in particular. Their first go-rounds in the major leagues where they had 7-something ERAs, got hit around, did some things that were interesting, like they had good strikeout numbers, and then in Dean’s case, he went back down, and in Kyle’s case, he went down through the use of a rehab assignment, and came back up and were different guys. I fully expect to see something similar.
“That’s par for the course in player development nowadays, come up to the majors, show flashes of your talent, you experience more failure than success right off the bat. You go back down, you get your confidence back, you fix some things that you worked on and you come back up and you’re a different player. We hope that’s the case here, but I think part of the calculus in sending him down was that even in his better outings, he tended to run out of pitches around the fifth inning and we have a taxed bullpen right now, so that factored as well. He’s going to be back. He’ll be back in our rotation. I’m hoping that he’s in our rotation pointing towards October. We just want to get him right and get him back up here to help. He’s 23 and he’s off to a brilliant start. This doesn’t change that.”
Minor league update: Third baseman Jordan Westburg hit his 14th home run, first baseman Lewin Díaz hit his 10th and recently signed outfielder Ben DeLuzio hit his first home run, a two-run walkoff as Triple-A Norfolk beat Gwinnett, 9-7.
DL Hall allowed a run on three hits in three innings. Spenser Watkins gave up five runs, four earned, in 1 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out three.
Garrett Stallings (2-2) worked five scoreless innings in relief, allowing one hit as Double-A Bowie beat Harrisburg, 3-2.
Alex Pham and Jake Lyons combined on a four-hit shutout and centerfielder Jud Fabian hit a grand slam and drove in five runs as High-A Aberdeen beat Hudson Valley, 7-0.
Pham (2-1) allowed one hit in five scoreless innings. Lyons allowed three hits in four innings, earning his first save.
Single-A Delmarva lost a doubleheader to Fredericksburg. The Shorebirds lost, 7-5, and, 2-1 in eight innings. Edgar Portes pitched four scoreless innings, allowing one hit in the second game.