Renato Nunez #39 of the Baltimore Orioles slides into second base in the second inning as the throw gets away from Dee Gordon #9 of the Seattle Mariners at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 21, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Renato Nunez #39 of the Baltimore Orioles slides into second base in the second inning as the throw gets away from Dee Gordon #9 of the Seattle Mariners at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 21, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Greg Fiume / Getty Images)

A late home run that erases an Orioles lead is nothing new.

Allowing Seattle’s Mallex Smith, one of the fastest men in the game, to reach on an error, steal second and score from there on an infield single to third base?

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That’s the latest in a long line of Orioles losses, 7-6, to the Seattle Mariners before an announced crowd of 22,556, that will go down as one of the most bizarre defeats of the season.

“This team has had more tough losses, I think, than I’ve ever witnessed in a season — way more,” manager Brandon Hyde said. "I feel like we’re due to win some of these games, and it just doesn’t happen.

Neither team threatened much before Smith hit a ball to second baseman Hanser Alberto, though it was close enough to first base that Trey Mancini made an attempt for it. That brought over reliever Tanner Scott to cover first, but he didn’t catch the ball at the bag. Smith’s 45th stolen base put him into scoring position, and when pinch-hitter Tim Lopes grounded to third baseman Rio Ruiz, Smith was off.

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 21: Shed Long #39 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates with J.P. Crawford #3 after hitting a home run in the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 21, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, CM - OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD **
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 21: Shed Long #39 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates with J.P. Crawford #3 after hitting a home run in the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 21, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, CM - OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD ** (Greg Fiume / Getty Images)

Ruiz’s throw didn’t make it to first in time to get Lopes, and Smith beat Mancini’s throw home for the go-ahead run to drop the Orioles to 50-105 in their penultimate home game of the season.

“Well, first, we kind of botch a [pitcher’s fielding practice] play to allow the baserunner, batter, runner, to reach first base, then don’t hold him and he steals second,” Hyde said. “Just a heads up play by Mallex Smith, who’s a plus-plus runner. It’s kind of a tough play for Rio because it was a chopper where he has to either come get or play back, and if he plays back, he’s got to really get rid of it. It was bang-bang at first base, safe, and Mallex continues. Tough play, but the runner shouldn’t have been on first base in the first place.”

Hyde noted that’s the “standard pitcher’s fielding practice” play, and while PFPs aren’t typically scheduled for this time of year, the Orioles ran through them Wednesday.

Smith’s late-inning sprints came after a pair of eighth-inning home runs turned the game on itself twice. The Orioles led 4-3 before Mychal Givens allowed an eighth-inning home run to J.P. Crawford to give Seattle a 6-4 lead, only for rookie Austin Hays to drill a line drive into the Orioles bullpen and tie the game.

Jonathan Villar was left at third base, representing the tying run, in the 13th inning.

The foundation of the Orioles’ offensive night was a three-run second inning, which began with a Renato Núñez single. He scored on a Stevie Wilkerson double, and Wilkerson and Pedro Severino scored when Richie Martin doubled.

Asher Wojeciechowski gave runs back in the third inning on a home run by Shed Long and on a fifth-inning single by Crawford that scored Long after a one-out double. A third run scored on Wojciechowski’s account on a passed ball charged to Pedro Severino after Branden Kline came in in relief.

But it wasn’t tied for long, as Wilkerson doubled, went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Martin, and scored on a single by Hanser Alberto. That held up thanks to a scoreless sixth from Kline and a nervy but scoreless seventh from Paul Fry before Mychal Givens served up a three-run home run in the eighth.

Shawn Armstrong retired all six batters he faced in the ninth and 10th innings, followed by seven straight retired by Dillon Tate before he gave way to Scott.

Bases-loaded busts

The three bases-loaded situations in the first five innings of the game produced no runs, making for a much more tame affair than it could have been. Wojciechowski clinched a scoreless first inning by striking out Daniel Vogelbach with the bases loaded in the Mariners’ first inning, and he left the bases loaded for Branden Kline with one-out in the fifth inning.

Kline got a pop-up but had a run score on a passed ball before a strikeout to end the inning with just one in. The Orioles scored a run in the bottom half before loading the bases with no outs, but didn’t push another run across. Paul Fry stranded the bases loaded in the seventh inning as well.

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How about this Hays?

On the occasion of minor league awards night at Camden Yards on Saturday, it’s fitting that a former participant in Hays, the 2017 Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year, starred yet again.

When he got that award that September, he’d come off a dominant minor league season but was struggling in the majors. This September has been quite different, as he’s now batting .308 with a .960 OPS and two home runs while providing semi-regular highlights in center field.

“You see the bat speed on the elevated fastball that he got to, and hit a three-iron out of the park in left-center,” Hyde said. “Just came up here and really played well. It’s fun to watch.”

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