An August that started out so promising for the Orioles fell apart because their offense did.
A new month made them look like a whole new team at the plate Tuesday night in a 9-5 win over the New York Mets at Camden Yards, with Renato Núñez blasting two home runs, Pat Valaika contributing a career-high four hits and Anthony Santander driving in three runs of his own.
In winning their second straight game after a five-game losing streak, the Orioles (16-19) scored their most runs since Aug. 11, a 16-game span in which they lost 12 times while averaging 3.75 runs per game.
“We haven’t had many games where we had a four-run lead,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I’m happy with our offense today. We had a bunch of guys swing the bat really, really well. It was nice to see guys drive the ball in the gap. We’ve been in a little bit of a rut offensively, and tonight we got some pitches to drive and we didn’t miss them. It was nice to see us continuing to pile on runs there in the middle part of a game.”
Though they pulled away late, the Orioles got off to a fast start to begin this week-long homestand in good form. Leadoff man Cedric Mullins bunted for a single, went to third on José Iglesias’ 12th double of the season and both scored on a Núñez home run to center field.
Asher Wojciechowski, who pitched five solid innings for the Orioles, had a slog of a second inning in which he gave back two of those runs before his team restored its lead with some small ball.
This time, it was a sacrifice bunt by Mullins putting runners in scoring position for a single by Santander and a run-scoring groundout for Iglesias helping the Orioles to a 5-3 lead. The Orioles bunted three times, all successfully, on Tuesday.
A solo home run by Robinson Canó in the third inning and a two-run homer by Andrés Giménez off Thomas Eshelman in the sixth tied the game at five, but the Orioles answered with a run-scoring double by Valaika and a two-run homer by Santander.
Núñez added his second home run of the game in the seventh, giving him four home runs in the past seven games. He hit seven home runs in the first 14 games, and then none in the next 14, but has felt better of late, he said.
“I feel like I was putting some good swings the last couple days,” Núñez said. “You’ve got to make adjustments. That’s what I’ve tried to do, and I got two homers to help the team today.”
Fry, Harvey, Scott, high five
Hyde was protecting a lead for the first time since he lost Mychal Givens and Miguel Castro in trades, and though it stopped being close after the seventh inning, the pitchers used will likely be big parts of such situations for the rest of September.
Paul Fry and Hunter Harvey each worked around hits for scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth innings before Tanner Scott pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
Alberto out, Herrera up
Second baseman Hanser Alberto left Monday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays with knee soreness, Hyde said, and he likely won’t play before Thursday’s off day. To cover for him, the Orioles selected infielder Dilson Herrera from the secondary camp at Bowie.
Outfielder DJ Stewart was also recalled from the Bowie site, with Mason Williams designated for assignment.
Orioles remember Uhlman
The Orioles had a moment of silence before Tuesday’s game for the passing of former scout Fred Uhlman Sr., who died Sunday at age 90 and spent 30 years with the Orioles, joining as scouting director in 1985 and retiring as a special advisor in 2015. He was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame that summer.
Uhlman is credited with opening the Orioles’ first academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, and signed countless Orioles including Jeff Ballard, Steve Finley, Gregg Olson, Arthur Rhodes and David Segui.
Hyde said outfielder Austin Hays (ribs) was progressing and could return within the next two weeks, while first baseman Chris Davis (knee) was still resting.