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BALTIMORE—Starting pitcher Dean Kremer allowed one run on two hits in six innings, Second baseman Adam Frazier hit two home runs for the first time in his career, and centerfielder Cedric Mullins hit his first home run and stole his first base since late May as the Orioles began the second half of the season with a 5-2 win over the Miami Marlins before an announced crowd of 23,377 at Camden Yards on Friday night.
The Orioles (55-35) have won six straight, their second longest streak of the season. From April 16th-24th, they won seven in a row.
They trail the Tampa Bay Rays, who lead the American League East by 1 ½ games. The Rays were rained out at Kansas City. It’s the first time since the end of the 2014 season the Orioles are 20 games above .500.
Kremer had one tough inning, the third, when he loaded the bases with one out and allowed his only run, an RBI single by Bryan De La Cruz. After the single, Kremer (10-4) retired nine straight before Jesus Sánchez reached on a throwing error by shortstop Gunnar Henderson in the sixth.
“We’re trying to give the bullpen a breather as best as we can,” Kremer said. “We’ve got a long half, and they’re going to be critical down the stretch. If we give them as much of a break as we can, then we’re going to be in good shape.”
Kremer walked two and hit a batter, all in the third. He struck out eight. Oriole starters have pitched at least six innings in eight straight games, the longest since another eight-game streak from May 11th-20th, 2015.
“The break was great, but everybody was itching to get back,” Kremer said. “We’ve got another half. We’re hoping to produce the same thing we did in the first half.”
Mullins singled to start the second, stole second and advanced to third on a wild throw. The steal was the 14th of the season, and his first since May 23rd. He scored on a single by Frazier.
Mullins led off the fourth by homering against Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara (3-8), his ninth, and first since May 23rd. He had three hits and looks much stronger than he has since he returned from missing nearly four weeks because of a groin injury.
Manager Brandon Hyde said that some players needed the four-day All-Star break.
“Cedric was one of those guys I’m talking about,” Hyde said. “Coming off of injury, being thrown in there. I tried to give him a little bit of rest in some of those games. It’s not easy to do. It’s not easy to miss a month and come back.
“He’s kind of finding his way. You saw him get a great jump on a steal attempt tonight. We ended up scoring a run. The swings were much more aggressive. You saw it the last game in Minnesota. I thought that’s when he really turned the corner offensively. Nice to give his legs a break there for four days. He played a great game tonight.”
With one out, Frazier homered and the Orioles led, 3-1, after four.
Bryan Baker pitched a scoreless seventh, and Jorge Soler hit his 24th home run against Yennier Cano in the eighth to make it 3-2.
Frazier’s two-run home run in the eighth gave the Orioles a 5-2 lead. It was his first multi-home run game in a career that began in 2016. He has hit a career-high 12 home runs.
“It’s surprising, but the ability to take a great at-bat is not,” Hyde said about his power. “For him to get big home runs like this for us this year has been huge.”
Closer Félix Bautista recorded his 24th save in the ninth.
With his three hits and four RBIs, Frazier raised his average to .240, the highest it has been since June 3rd.
“Any time you can contribute, [it’s] fun, especially winning games like we are,” Frazier said. “I’ll take the homers. I feel like the work in the cage with the guys is paying off.”
Now that the Orioles are 20 games over .500, Frazier knows that they’re a real postseason threat.
“We know we’re good,” Frazier said. “We’ve got a really dangerous lineup from one through nine. Even every guy on the bench is dangerous. The guys pitching, they’ve showed up all year long. Tough days here and there. We’ve had that on the offensive side, too. We know we’re a complete team. We’ll take it one day at a time and see where we’re at at the end of this thing.”
Notes: The start of the game was delayed by rain for one hour, six minutes. Oriole games have been delayed 12 hours, 30 minutes this season. … Kyle Gibson (9-6, 4.60) will face Braxton Garrett (5-2, 3.79) on Saturday night. The first 25,000 fans 15-and-over receive an Orioles soccer jersey. … Ryan Mountcastle, who returned last Sunday from the injured list because of vertigo, pinch-hit for Ryan O’Hearn in the seventh and hit into a double play. It was his first at-bat at Oriole Park since May 31st.
Minor league update: In his first game for Triple-A Norfolk, third baseman Coby Mayo drove in three runs and leftfielder Connor Norby hit his 12th home run in an 11-3 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Kyle Stowers, who’d been on the injured list with a shoulder injury, returned and was hitless in three at-bats.
Leftfielder John Rhodes hit three home runs, and shortstop Jackson Holliday had two hits in his first game for Double-A Bowie, but the Baysox lost to Akron, 8-6. Rhodes has eight home runs. Rightfielder Billy Cook hit his 10th home run.
Designated hitter Creed Willems drove in five runs and hit his seventh home run, and third baseman Max Wagner had four hits and drove in three runs as High-A Aberdeen beat Wilmington, 15-2.
Salem beat Single-A Delmarva, 9-0.
Question time: I’ll be answering Orioles questions next week. Please email them to: [email protected].
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