What they're saying about Mullins' sensational catch and Orioles' 7-4 win over Twins - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

What they’re saying about Mullins’ sensational catch and Orioles’ 7-4 win over Twins

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan USA TODAY Sports


BALTIMORE—What happened? It’s easy to take centerfielder Cedric Mullins for granted. With so many exceptional young players on the Orioles, Mullins is often overlooked.

“I hope they don’t,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We have a team full of really good players. These guys that have been here for a while have done some amazing things here and have had a lot of success and they’re going to continue to be good major league players, and Cedric is a really, really important part of our team.

“He’s played great center-field defense, and I love the way he’s swinging the bat the last week. He’s a huge spark offensively, also.”

Mullins became the first Oriole to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season in 2021 when the team lost 110 games. Last season, when the Orioles won 101 games, Mullins was limited to 116 games because of two stints on the injured list with right adductor/groin strains. He hit just .233 and was hitless in 12 at-bats in the Division Series.

Mullins is off to a much better start this season, and no one was taking him for granted after his performance on Monday. Mullins drove in three runs with a two-run home run and a sacrifice fly in the Orioles’ 7-4 victory over the Twins at Camden Yards, but that wasn’t what people were talking about.

In the first inning, with hm shading toward right-center, Kyle Farmer hit a liner to left-center. There didn’t appear to be any way Mullins would catch up to the ball, let alone catch it. But his all-out sprint ended in an all-out dive, and he made another highlight-reel catch that ended the first and saved a run.

“It was an all-out effort,” Mullins said. “Just one of those balls you don’t know until you get there. I knew I had a slight possibility, so I went out and went for it.

“The instincts kind of take over there. The reads that I get during [batting practice] are kind of what leads to that. Taking it serious, make sure I’m getting good jumps on the ball during BP are the little things that matter.”

What about Mullins’ other great catches? Last August 12th, Mullins made a brilliant catch in Seattle, jumping and, with his glove over the center field fence, pulling Ty France’s home run bid back into the ballpark in the bottom of the ninth. In the top of the tenth, he hit a two-run home run to send the Orioles on their way to a win.

“It’s a tough answer,” Mullins said about his catch on Monday. “I give it 1. The fellas give it 1. I’ll go right there with them. It was a difficult catch, diving away from the field.”

Irvin wasn’t on the mound in Seattle. He was on Monday, and his reaction, including a tip of the cap, was perfect.

“That may be one of the best plays I’ve had behind me in general,” Irvin said. “Shoot, I don’t know if I’ll ever see a play like that while I’m pitching again. From the angle I had, that was really cool. I didn’t think he was going to catch it.

“All of a sudden, there’s a glove and it’s in it. It’s an incredible play.”

Hyde has seen Mullins play since 2019.

“That’s got to be top few,” Hyde said. “I think the one in Seattle last year is going to be tough to top. Just the situation in the game and the play he made and the homer after, the whole combination.

“[Leftfielder Austin] Hays said he felt like he was hovering over the ground for a while, and he caught the ball behind him. Ced’s a Gold Glove centerfielder, and he’s playing great defense for us this year.”

How is Mullins hitting? Mullins has homered in consecutive games for the first time since April 1st-2nd, 2023.

“I’m feeling good. I’d say right around the Boston series, I was putting some things together, and I continue to do so,” Mullins said.

What’s with Cole Irvin? In his third start, Irvin allowed two runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings and didn’t get an opportunity for his first win after giving up a hit with two outs in the fifth.

“I think Cole did a good job,” Hyde said. “We played good defense behind him, and he kept us in the game until the fifth inning.”

Irvin would have had a worse line if Mullins hadn’t made that catch.

“Hell of a play, a hell of a player,” Irvin said. “It’s great to have all these guys behind me, especially Ced.”

Irvin said he treats his defenders to an adult drink.

“I do that for everyone that makes a great play behind me,” Irvin said. “It’s just a thank you and appreciation doing what you’re doing, playing hard behind us.”

How strong has Kimbrel been? Closer Craig Kimbrel recorded his fourth save of the season, pitching a spotless ninth. His save was No. 420 of his career, one shy of Billy Wagner for seventh on the all-time list. In five of his seven appearances, he’s faced just three batters.

“Someone who understands what he’s doing out there,” Mullins said. “A lot of success behind his name. For him to come in and do exactly what he’s always been doing is great.”

It’s unlikely Hyde will pitch Kimbrel three games in succession this early in the season.

“Unbelievable. The fastball just continues to improve, a ton of life on it, especially on back-to-back days,” Hyde said. “I love how aggressive he’s been in the strike zone.”

What’s the word? “I owe him a little party favor after that one.”-Irvin on Mullins’ catch

What does it mean? The Orioles won the American League East last season without a good year from Mullins. With free agency approaching for Mullins, a better year would benefit him, and the team.

What’s the stat of the day? The Orioles have hit at least three home runs in three consecutive games for the first time since May 10th-12th, 2018. On Monday night, Mullins, Ryan O’Hearn and Gunnar Henderson hit homers.

Bradish’s 1st rehab start: Kyle Bradish, who’s on the 15-day injured list with a sprained right ulnar collateral ligament, will start for Double-A Bowie against Altoona on Tuesday night.

Hyde said that he’s hoping for two or three innings from Bradish and between 40 and 50 pitches.

“See how he feels after every inning,” Hyde said.

Jackie Robinson Day: On April 15th, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first Black player in baseball, and on the anniversary of his first game, each player in the major leagues wears No. 42, which was been universally retired.

Unfortunately, the number of American-born Black players has slipped to just 6 percent of major league players. The Orioles have two Black players on their 26-man roster, Mullins and reliever Dillon Tate.

Mullins thinks that it’s a matter of cost.

“Baseball’s expensive. It’s something that doesn’t go unnoticed,” Mullins said. “To be able to provide resources like gloves, bats, things like that, the opportunity to be noticed. That’s a big part of this game, exposure. To create that opportunity for those kids to get out there and show what they can do, showcase themselves. I think that’s a big part of it.”

Game time change: The Orioles game on Labor Day, Monday September 2nd against the Chicago White Sox has been changed from 1:05 p.m. to 3:05. The Orioles are playing the Colorado Rockies in Denver the day before.

What’s next? Grayson Rodriguez (2-0, 2.50) will face Minnesota’s Chris Paddack (0-0, 4.15) at 6:35 on Tuesday night.

Call for questions: Each weekday, I’ll be answering at least one Orioles’ question. Please send yours to: [email protected]

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