Baltimore Orioles

Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays homers not enough for Orioles and Spenser Watkins in 7-3 loss to Marlins

A preceding blast to Eutaw Street made them for naught, but solo home runs from two young Orioles showed once again that even as Baltimore’s infield is laden with waiver claims, building blocks are already beginning to be placed in the team’s outfield.

The deep drives from center fielder Cedric Mullins and left fielder Austin Hays accounted for most of the Orioles’ offense in Tuesday night’s 7-3 loss to the Miami Marlins, with light-hitting catcher Sandy León’s three-run home run off Spenser Watkins in the second inning providing an early lead Miami tacked on to throughout the game.


“We’re constantly having conversations with each other on the at-bats we’re having, how the guy’s pitching us and being on top of the order, my approach is kind of similar, so it’s good to have those talks,” Mullins said. “We just kind of create some momentum for our offense. We were able to do so today, just weren’t able to close that gap.”

For Mullins, his 17th home run came in his 418th plate appearance of the year, exactly as many as he had while mostly struggling at the big league level in the previous three seasons. From 2018 to 2020, he hit only seven home runs with a .225 batting average and a .632 OPS. His shot off Marlins starter Sandy Alcántara and a single in the eighth inning raised those marks in 2021 to .319 and .925.


That the homer came on a 98.8 mph fastball made it all the more impressive. Mullins, 26, has six hits, including two homers, on pitches of at least 98 mph, tied with former Orioles and current San Diego Padres star Manny Machado for the second most this year. They trail only former Baltimore and current Detroit Tigers infielder Jonathan Schoop, who has eight.

Since June 28, Hays, 26, has made all but one start in the No. 2 spot behind Mullins in manager Brandon Hyde’s lineup, with the exception being a night in the leadoff spot when Mullins got a day off. Hays entered Tuesday batting .292/.333/.528 in that span, and Tuesday’s home run, which came in an 0-2 count in the fourth inning and represented the Orioles’ first hit off Alcántara, was the second hardest-hit ball of his career and gave him four in the past 21 games after hitting six in his first 48 appearances.

“He goes deep, makes a couple nice plays in left field,” Hyde said. “Defense is there. I’d just like to see him shrink the strike zone a little bit. At times like most of our young hitters, [Ryan] Mountcastle, etc., we tend to be a little too excited at the plate and not, trying to make things happen instead of taking the at-bat. ... Those two guys, when they swing at strikes, they hit the ball hard for the most part. Both have got a ton of ability, and they’re still very young in their careers.”

The Orioles (34-65) scored their final run in the seventh when DJ Stewart doubled and Ramón Urías singled him home. Trey Mancini doubled twice, but neither led to a run.

At Watkins’ ex-Spense

In his three impressive starts to open his major league career, Watkins allowed a run each, for three total. Having entered play with a .458 OPS and two home runs in 153 at-bats, León brought that many home with one swing.

His homer went a projected 403 feet and was the first by a Marlin to land on Eutaw Street. Of the 110 balls to reach the cusp of the B&O Warehouse, 60 have been hit by visitors. León scored on a Starling Marte single in the fourth, meaning Watkins allowed more runs Tuesday than he did in his first three starts. He said he was having trouble getting the same feel for his offspeed pitches he had in his previous outings.

“Trying to find that consistent feel was a little bit more of a search for me tonight, rather than having it from pitch one,” Watkins said. “I wouldn’t sit here and say that I took a step back by any means.”

Hyde was praising of Watkins, noting that he managed to keep the Orioles in the game despite his struggles. A diving stop from Mountcastle at first base helped leave the bases loaded in the third.


“Could have been a lot worse than that if [Watkins] didn’t make pitches,” Hyde said. “He had runners in scoring position, nobody out. Just did a nice job of pitching.”

The first batter Shaun Anderson faced in the fifth, Lewin Díaz, homered, though after a subsequent single, he retired the next six batters for the best of his four relief outings with Baltimore. Adam Plutko allowed a solo shot by Brian Anderson in the seventh.

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Making his MLB debut, Conner Greene, 26, struck out Magneuris Sierra on three pitches, the last at 99 mph, to open the eighth. But with two outs, he hit Marte with a pitch, and after he stole second, Jesús Aguilar brought him home.

Greene, who followed with a scoreless ninth, was the 12th Oriole to make his debut this year, three off the franchise record set in 2018.

“Really amped up that first inning,” Hyde said. “We saw a bunch of 98s, 99s. ... I like the energy he brings on the mound. He’s definitely in the fight every single pitch.”

Each run the Orioles’ bullpen allowed directly followed a Baltimore score the previous half-inning.


Around the horn

  • After Jorge López starts the finale of this two-game series Wednesday, the Orioles will deploy Alexander Wells, Matt Harvey, John Means and Watkins for their four-game road series with the Detroit Tigers.
  • Hyde said “it’s up to MLB at this point” when outfielder Anthony Santander and pitcher Keegan Akin are cleared to come off the COVID-19 injured list, but he also said they would return “hopefully the next couple days.”
  • The Orioles signed right-handed pitcher Daniel Lloyd, their 14th-round pick, meaning they have signed all 21 players they selected in this month’s MLB draft.


Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.

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