The Orioles have played a season of streaks through the first half of the abbreviated 2020 campaign. After Saturday’s result, they hope that trend continues.
Pedro Severino’s bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 10th completed the Orioles’ second comeback in their 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards, ending the home team’s six-game losing streak.
The skid directly followed a six-game winning streak that pushed the Orioles (13-14) to a 12-8 start one-third of the way into this 60-game season.
“It’s totally been streaky on our end,” said starting pitcher Alex Cobb, who pitched five innings of two-run ball. “We have the pieces. I don’t believe what we have done when we go on those streaks are flukes. I think we’ve got some guys that are extremely high-caliber, big-league players.”
Anthony Santander is continuing to prove he is one of them. With two outs in the eighth, he extended his hitting streak to 17 games when he rifled a two-run home down the left-field line to tie the game. With an exit velocity of 109.5 mph and a projected distance of 426 feet, it was the Orioles’ hardest and farthest home run of 2020, per Statcast. It was also Santander’s 10th of the season, a total matched by only San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr., Los Angeles’ Mike Trout and the New York Yankees’ Luke Voit.
“Really becoming an impact player in our game,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said of Santander. “Just coming into his own offensively.”
The Red Sox got a run in the top of the 10th when Orioles closer Cole Sulser issued three straight one-out walks, allowing the runner who automatically began the inning at second base to score. But Miguel Castro retired the next two batters to keep the deficit at one.
Baltimore’s half of the deciding inning began with Rio Ruiz, who struck out to end a scoring opportunity in the ninth, automatically on second base. He advanced on a bunt from Cedric Mullins, beating Boston first baseman Mitch Moreland’s throw to third, and scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.
An infield single from Hanser Alberto put runners on the corners for Santander, who the Red Sox elected to intentionally walk. With the bases loaded, Andrew Velazquez struck out, but with Jackie Bradley Jr. vacating center field to serve as a fifth infielder, Severino had plenty of space up the middle to deliver his first career walk-off hit.
“I’ve seen that position before, five guys in the infield,” Severino said. “The only thing that passed my mind, ‘Just try to hit the ball on the barrel and see where it goes.’
“That was a win we needed.”
Before Santander’s shot and the accompanying bat toss, it had been another quiet night for the Orioles lineup, with Pat Valaika’s second-inning home run, his third in as many games, all they managed against Boston starter Martín Pérez in his seven innings.
A pair of firsts
In the second game of each of their major league careers, Ryan Mountcastle and Ramón Urías both collected their first major league hits.
Urías, who debuted as a pinch-hitter Thursday, sent the first pitch he saw from Pérez into left field for a single.
Mountcastle, who became the second Oriole to walk twice in his debut despite going hitless Friday, had to wait a little longer. After he struck out in the second, it seemed his first hit would go to extra bases when he drove a ball to right to open the fifth, but Kevin Pillar jumped and slammed into the wall to deny Mountcastle and continue his excellent defense in the series. Mountcastle then grounded out in the seventh.
With two outs in the ninth, Mountcastle hit a soft grounder to third and sprinted out of the box, his helmet falling off as he reached the first-base bag with an infield single for his first major league hit. Alberto and Santander each faked throwing the ball into the empty stands.
“Always great to see guys get their first in the major leagues,” Hyde said. “Those are special moments that they’ll never forget.”
Keeping it 100
With none following Severino’s walk-off, the Orioles’ final at-bat with a lead was Valaika’s fourth-inning single.
Cobb, a potential trade candidate ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline, had pitched four scoreless innings despite allowing plenty of hard contact, but Boston unleashed a barrage in the fifth. With one out, Jackie Bradley Jr. homered to left-center field to tie the game, and José Peraza and Verdugo followed with consecutive doubles. Cobb retired the final two batters he faced to end his outing, but the final five balls the Red Sox put in play against him left their bats at 100 mph or more, per Statcast.
“The whole game, I was kind of fighting myself,” Cobb said. “The offspeed pitches weren’t biting too well, and my fastball just didn’t feel like it had much life to it. It’s one of those games where you’re just trying to grind through it.”
In the sixth, Tanner Scott relieved Shawn Armstrong with two on and a run in, but he stranded both in scoring position, then got the first two outs of the seventh. Mychal Givens then worked his 10th straight scoreless outing, walking the first batter he faced before retiring the next four.
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Sulser pitched a clean ninth but struggled with his command in the 10th, with three straight one-out walks allowing the runner that automatically began the inning on second to score. Castro replaced him and left the bases full, setting up Baltimore’s rally in the bottom half.