Instead of Cedric Mullins getting a much-deserved day off to rest and enjoy an All-Star selection that was even more deserved, he came off the bench during Sunday’s game with the Los Angeles Angels in the sixth inning and gave the Orioles a one-run lead in the ninth with a solo home run.
He’s only one man, though, and even his heroics weren’t enough as Cole Sulser loaded the bases in the ninth and allowed a two-run double to Juan Lagares to give the Angels a 6-5, walk-off win over the Orioles for a three-game sweep this weekend at Angels Stadium in Anaheim.
“It was an All-Star performance,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He got a day off, comes in, pinch-hits in the sixth, huge hit for us, and he’s facing an elite closer and homers for us in the ninth inning. So, it’s a game we should have won. ... Got the lead and didn’t hold on.”
Hyde has spent most of the season singing those refrains, praising Mullins as an All-Star and lamenting a lead slipping away in a game the Orioles had in their grasps. Having to do it on the same day Mullins got his big All-Star news certainly wasn’t in his plans.
“Pretty irritated right now, so it’s tough to process,” Hyde said. “When we have the lead, with our record the way it is, it’s nice to win, so it’s disappointing giving a game like this away.”
The Orioles (27-57) threatened in the first inning when Angels starter Patrick Sandoval walked the bases loaded, but DJ Stewart struck out to leave them that way. Thomas Eshelman had no such luck starting the game on the mound for the Orioles as he allowed a leadoff double to David Fletcher, and after striking out All-Star Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh doubled to score Fletcher and Walsh scored on a single by Phil Gosselin.
Los Angeles doubled its lead in the third inning with solo home runs by Ohtani and Anthony Rendon, and the Orioles only had one more baserunner to try and chip away at that 4-0 lead until they broke out in the sixth inning.
Austin Hays began the frame with a single, and Trey Mancini put two on with nobody out with a walk. Ramón Urías, who had two hits and a walk Sunday, doubled to score Hays, while DJ Stewart’s double scored Mancini and Urías.
Mullins was meant to get a day off before Monday’s off day, but Hyde called on him to pinch-hit in the sixth and he came through with a game-tying single.
The Orioles’ bullpen, including Tyler Wells, Tanner Scott, and Cole Sulser, kept the Angels off the bases and the scoreboard until the ninth. But Sulser, who got the last out of the eighth, didn’t get an out in the ninth inning.
The loss was the second walk-off of this three-game series in Anaheim, and meant the Orioles were swept after sweeping the Houston Astros the series before. They return home after a 4-6 road trip facing the Toronto Blue Jays, Astros, and Angels stung from Sunday’s result but overall encouraged, Eshelman said.
“We’ve shown that we can fight and hang with these teams, so it’s going to be nice to return back to Baltimore, but we fought and we were in every single game on this road trip,” Eshelman said. “It was nice to see.”
John Means rehabs in Aberdeen
Left-hander John Means made his first rehab appearance on his road back from a shoulder strain Sunday at High-A Aberdeen, and allowed a solo home run in two innings of work while striking out two.
Hyde did not have an update on how Means felt after the start when he spoke before Sunday’s Orioles game.
César Valdez activated
Right-hander César Valdez was activated from the 10-day injured list Sunday, and Hyde said the hope is that now that his back strain is healed, Valdez will be closer to the dominant reliever he was at the end of 2020 and in April than the one who was hit around in May and June.
Latest Baltimore Orioles
“He feels healthy, feels like it recharged his batteries a little bit,” Hyde said. “We’re hoping that we get the [Valdez] that we got in September last year here the second half of the season.”