Cedric Mullins came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning with a chance at franchise history. He settled for an ovation instead.
His lineout to left field spoiled his chance to match the Orioles’ record for consecutive at-bats with a hit, but the offense around him provided plenty more in an 18-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday at Camden Yards. In scoring their most runs since August 2015, the Orioles locked up their second straight series victory.
Mullins, as he has been throughout this resurgent season, was the spark plug, but he had plenty of help. He led off the game with a home run, his third in the past two games after he went 5-for-5 with two home runs in Saturday’s loss to match Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken Jr. as the only Orioles to record such a batting line. Amid a six-run outburst an inning later, he dropped a run-scoring single into center. He led off the fourth with a double, with a replay review upholding the call that he was out trying to extend it into a triple. The Orioles (21-38) scored five runs that inning anyway.
The Indians (31-26) seemed to learn their lesson, walking Mullins his next two times up as he sat one shy of Ken Singleton’s record of 10 consecutive at-bats with a hit.
“You can never foresee a guy getting on base 11 times in a row,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “What he’s doing right now, I don’t have words. Just so impressive. His at-bats are so good. He’s taking walks. He’s under control. He’s staying on the baseball. ... He’s covering the entire plate. He’s a tough out. He’s tough with two strikes. He’s swinging at strikes. And then he plays Gold Glove defense. He’s doing absolutely a little bit of everything right now.”
The Orioles continued to pile on, with eight of their nine starters recording multiple hits, affording Mullins another trip to the plate. As he returned to the dugout after his first out since Friday, the crowd, his teammates and coaches rose and cheered. Mullins said he had “never” received an ovation for an unproductive out before.
“Not a single person prior to that at-bat told me anything — probably for good reason,” Mullins said. “I choked it anyway. But it’s OK. It’s just continuing to have good at-bats from this point forward.”
The streak raised Mullins’ batting average to .322 and OPS to .923, the highest those marks have been after a game in more than a month.
“It was a lot of confidence involved, with me being on the tear that I am right now,” Mullins said. “I want to be able to continue to spread that confidence as much as I can to the rest of the team and hopefully get some wins.”
That was the case Sunday. Anthony Santander, Ryan Mountcastle and DJ Stewart also had three hits, giving the Orioles 21 total, while Ramón Urías’ eighth-inning home run made it so their first and last runs were their only ones scored in that fashion. Nine Orioles drove in at least one run, matching a franchise record last done in September 2000.
If it ain’t broke
With two outs in the fourth, Santander broke his bat on a single, with the splintered barrel getting caught in the netting behind home plate. It remained there, perhaps providing a good-luck charm as the Orioles struck for five runs.
Santander’s started a run of six straight singles. Mountcastle’s also came with a broken bat, with the barrel and the ball heading out toward shortstop Amed Rosario. He backed up to field the ball but was unable to throw Mountcastle out at first as Santander hustled to score from second, doing so on what Hyde said before the game was a “really sore ankle.” Santander, who served as Baltimore’s designated hitter Sunday, missed 26 games earlier this year with a sprained left ankle.
“He’s playing not 100% and giving everything he has every single day,” Hyde said pregame. “It’s just a maintenance thing and an ankle sprain is tough,” Hyde said. “When you’re playing every day and playing the outfield, it’s not easy.”
Stewart followed with a grounder to the right side of Cleveland’s shifted infield, but when pitcher Sam Hentges failed to cover first in time, Stewart reached safely and Freddy Galvis came home, giving the Orioles two straight infield singles in which a runner scored from second.
After a wild pitch, Maikel Franco singled both Mountcastle and Stewart home, then scored on an Urías hit.
“When you have days like this, you relish in the moment,” Hyde said. “We don’t have many blowout wins, and so to have a big lead and to continue to add on and to continue to have guys have really good at-bats all the way through late into the game is fun to watch.
“Our guys swinging the bat the way they did throughout the game today, I hope we can keep it going.”
Working with a lead
Provided an early collection of run support, Jorge López and the bullpen behind him did plenty to make it stand.
López entered the day receiving fewer than two runs of support per start, but when he gave up consecutive doubles in the third, he was already pitching with a 7-0 lead. He surrendered a two-run home run in the fifth to Rosario, and Cleveland didn’t score again until Bobby Bradley brought in two with a homer in the ninth off left-hander Zac Lowther, who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game.
“Having this game is all we want,” López said. “It’s a great team effort. You see a big lead like that, sometimes, it’s hard to focus, but just go get the opportunity to give yourself a shot of putting everything together. It was really fun.”
Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.
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