It appeared Saturday would be a second straight day of celebration at Camden Yards. Ryan Mountcastle hit three home runs, eliciting a second curtain call in as many games. The man who earned the former, Cedric Mullins, again homered twice.
But it was not meant to be. Each of the four Orioles relievers who followed rookie starter Dean Kremer allowed a run, including a ninth-inning implosion from Paul Fry and Tyler Wells as the Toronto Blue Jays struck for six runs to secure a series-evening 10-7 victory.
The game featured a benches-clearing incident in the fourth after Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah hit Maikel Franco with his first pitch after allowing consecutive home runs to Mountcastle and DJ Stewart.
Manoah was ejected for what umpires and Orioles manager Brandon Hyde believed to be intentionally throwing at Franco. In 5 ⅔ innings against Toronto’s bullpen, the Orioles scored two runs, coming on solo shots from Mountcastle and Mullins. The Blue Jays needed only three frames to score eight times off Baltimore relievers.
The Orioles (23-47) led 6-2 through six innings, with Mountcastle joining Nick Markakis as the only rookies in franchise history to homer three times in a game. The trifecta tied him with Mullins and Trey Mancini for the team lead, only for Mullins to reclaim it with another solo shot in the seventh, his 13th, after the Blue Jays got a run in the seventh off Tanner Scott on a double play started on a sterling snag from second baseman Stevie Wilkerson.
But after Baltimore became only the second team in major league history to have their first six hits be home runs, they failed to score again. The Blue Jays got within three on Marcus Semien’s second home run in the eighth off Hunter Harvey; he had taken Kremer deep to open the afternoon, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. did the same two batters later for his league-leading 23rd home run.
But after cleanup man Randal Grichuk singled, Kremer settled in and didn’t allow another hit as he posted Baltimore’s first six-inning start of June.
Fry, who has been used infrequently since becoming the Orioles’ closer, struggled with his command for the second time in three outings, loading the bases with one out and walking a run in with two. Hyde called on Wells, a rookie who has climbed up the bullpen ladder with a dominant June, to earn what could’ve been his first career save. His nine-pitch battle with Bo Bichette ended with a looping single to right that just evaded Anthony Santander’s glove, allowing the tying run to score. Guerrero scored two more with a double on the next pitch and scored when Grichuk doubled, as well.
“Give Bichette credit for an amazing at-bat,” Hyde said. “Put the ball in play on a tough slider, down and away, after a bunch of foul balls. Just a little bit out of our reach there to tie the game. It seemed like it took a little bit of the air out of the balloon for Wellsy, hung a couple pitches there after that.
“So, yeah. Tough inning.”
Mountcastle’s big day
In tearing up major league pitching in his first stint as an Oriole, Mountcastle lived up to the lofty expectations he carried with him to Camden Yards. After struggling in the opening month of his first full season as a big leaguer, he’s back to doing just that.
After batting .198 while struggling defensively in April, Mountcastle has hit .308, slugged .596 and posted an OPS of .927 since. At .769, he has not ended a game with his OPS higher than when he completed his 35-game 2020 season at .878.
“I was seeing the ball well and I felt like I was on everything,” Mountcastle said.
After the Blue Jays’ two home runs off Kremer in the first inning, Mountcastle’s first home run in the second cut Toronto’s lead in half. Mullins tied the game in the third, Mountcastle’s two-run blast provided Baltimore its first lead in the fourth and Stewart quickly added to it before the benches-clearing plunking.
With a chance at the major leagues’ 17th four-home run game, Mountcastle smoked a 108.6 mph single to left on the first pitch he saw in the eighth for his second career four-hit day.
“He put on a show,” Kremer said.
Around the horn
» Hyde said before the game that left-hander John Means’ left shoulder tendinitis will keep him out until about the All-Star break next month.
» Mountcastle had the Orioles’ first three-homer game since Pedro Severino in 2019, while Mullins was the first Baltimore batter with consecutive multi-homer performances since Pedro Álvarez in 2018. Before Mountcastle, the majors’ last rookie to hit three home runs in a game was former Orioles farmhand Mike Yastrzemski.
Sunday, 1:05 p.m.
TV: MASN Radio: 105.7 FM