BALTIMORE—Oriole closer Félix Bautista had been nearly unhittable for weeks. He was named American League Reliever of the Month for the third time this season in July, and for the second consecutive month.
Entering Tuesday night’s game with a three-run lead in the ninth, Bautista seemed ready for his 31st save. Instead, Bautista allowed a grand slam to the Houston Astros Kyle Tucker, his first run allowed since June 24th.
Bautista hadn’t allowed more than a single earned run in any of his appearances, and the Orioles were 61-3 when leading after eight innings. His four runs allowed equaled a career high.
The Orioles’ four-game winning streak was broken with the 7-6 loss to the Astros before an announced crowd of 24,761 at Camden Yards.
Bautista (6-2) walked pinch-hitter Jon Singleton to start the ninth, allowed a single to Jose Altuve, and after Alex Bregman struck out, Yordan Alvarez hit a drive to center that Jorge Mateo nearly caught but it ended up as a single, loading the bases for Tucker, who homered on a 2-2 count on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.
“I think it wasn’t my day,” Bautista said through a translator. “I did everything the same as usual, conducted myself the same way, gave my best effort out there. Unfortunately, things didn’t go my way tonight.”
Even when Singleton and Altuve reached to begin the inning, Bautista thought he’d recover.
“I’m still trying to execute pitches at that point, but it just didn’t work out that way,” he said.
Houston’s Ryne Stanek (3-1) pitched the eighth, and Ryan Pressley worked the ninth for his 27th save.
For the second time in five weeks, the Orioles faced a pitcher who’d thrown a no-hitter in his previous start. On July 3rd, they peppered the New York Yankees’ Domingo German, for three runs on nine hits in 4 1/3rd innings. German had thrown the 24th perfect game in baseball history.
Framber Valdez, who threw a no-hitter against Cleveland on August 1st, allowed six runs on eight hits in seven innings.
Oriole starter Grayson Rodriguez allowed two runs on six hits in six innings and appeared to have a win once Bautista arrived for the ninth.
“That’s once-in-a-lifetime right there,” Rodriguez said. “That’s a generational closer. For that to happen is pretty rare. Definitely not something that’s going to keep happening.”
The Orioles are two games ahead of Tampa Bay in the American League East.
Ryan Mountcastle’s first-inning two run home run cleared both bullpens and was hit 472 feet, the longest by an Oriole since Statcast began measuring home runs in 2015. Houston’s Carlos Correa hit the only one longer, 474 feet, on August 10th, 2019.
“I knew I got it pretty good. Once it went over the other bullpen I was pretty shocked,” Mountcastle said. “I knew I hit it well and I got a good pitch to hit.”
Ramón Urías tripled to right and scored on James McCann’s grounder to first in the bottom of the second, and Adley Rutschman hit his 15th home run against Valdez for a 5-0 lead.
Rodriguez allowed two runs in the third on an RBI single by Tucker and a sacrifice fly by Yainer Diaz.
In the fourth, Jordan Westburg doubled, moved to third on an infield out by Urías and scored on McCann’s fly to center, and the Orioles (70-43) led, 6-2.
In his second start as a centerfielder, Mateo took away a home run by Y Alvarez in the fifth inning.
Manager Brandon Hyde was ejected by first base umpire Edwin Moscoso after he argued that Jeremy Peña was out at first base on a grounder to Gunnar Henderson at short.
The Orioles had already used their challenge, and Hyde said something to Moscoso as he was walking away and was ejected. Hyde argued vehemently and third base umpire Larry Vanover led Moscoso away.
“I got ejected with my back turned. That’s what upset me,” Hyde said. “Didn’t make the call right away. I was asking for some sort of help because it looked like he was confused … I just didn’t think it was necessary to throw me out.”
It was Hyde’s fourth ejection this season and 13th as Orioles manager. Bench coach Fredi González took over for Hyde.
Urías left the game after six innings because of left heel discomfort. He hit into a double play to end the sixth.
“When he went to run, his bat hit his heel,” Hyde said.
Adam Frazier, who hadn’t played since Thursday because of an injured right thumb, came in to play second while Westburg played third.
Reliever Mike Baumann allowed a run after he walked Tucker to lead off the eighth.
Bautista entered the game with a 0.85 ERA and left it with a 1.52.
“It’s an important position so you can’t let this one outing carry over into the next day,” he said. “The last thing you want is it affecting you two days in a row instead of just the one. You’ve got to learn to leave it behind and get ready for the next day.”
Notes: Pitcher John Means will begin his rehab assignment at Double-A Bowie on Thursday. … Jack Flaherty (8-6, 4.28) will face Cristian Javier (7-2, 4.39) on Wednesday night.
Minor league update: Garrett Stallings (3-4) allowed eight runs on 10 hits in four innings as Triple-A Norfolk lost to Jacksonville, 11-2. Leftfielder Heston Kjerstad hit an inside-the-park home run.
In his third rehab game, centerfielder Cedric Mullins was 2-for-5 in Double-A Bowie’s 10-2 loss to Richmond.
Second baseman Carter Young had two hits in his first game for High-A Aberdeen as the IronBirds lost to Brooklyn, 3-2.
Single-A Delmarva was held to one hit in a 6-1 loss to Carolina. In his first game for the Shorebirds, leftfielder Matthew Etzel homered for the only hit.