Orioles rookie center fielder Cedric Mullins fashions himself an old-fashioned leadoff hitter with a bit of pop, so it’s only fitting that on the day he hit his first major league home run, something else took precedent over it in his mind.
In the Orioles’ three-run third inning, which turned out to be enough to secure their eventual 4-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday at Progressive Field, Mullins also notched his first bunt single after a walk by fellow rookie Austin Wynns. That set the table for a three-run home run by Jonathan Villar.
“I felt more accomplished with the bunt single, in all honesty,” Mullins said. “It created some momentum on our offense, and Villar came up and was able to take complete advantage of it.”
Mullins’ home run, which came off reliever Neil Ramírez and went an estimated 408 feet out into a stiff breeze to right field, was in the eighth inning. Manager Buck Showalter called it a “big tack-on run” which gave Alex Cobb a bit of a cushion to seek a complete game.
Mullins got a private indoctrination into the Orioles’ home run club in the clubhouse after the game, one Showalter said only happened because the speedy Mullins let his teammates catch him. But he enjoyed the public reception in the dugout as well.
“Oh, it was awesome,” Mullins said. “The seeds getting thrown in my face. I never had that happen before. I think one got me in the eye a little bit, but it was fun to be able to get the first one out of the way.”
The two-hit day continued what has been a spectacular start to Mullins’ career. He’s batting .357 (10-for-28) while ascending to the top of the lineup this weekend and giving the team stability in center field. For the second night in a row, Showalter complimented Mullins for taking away extra bases on a ball in the gap, instead holding a runner to a single.
On Friday, it was a gapper by Michael Brantley that only went for one base. On Saturday, it was Yan Gomes in the Indians’ two-run sixth inning.