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Orioles sweep Red Sox, 11-3, as bats break out behind Cedric Mullins, Bruce Zimmermann delivers quality start

BOSTON — For a team of which so little was expected, the Orioles certainly over-delivered this weekend in Boston.

With a comprehensive 11-3 win over the Red Sox on Sunday, thanks to a seven-run third inning and a quality start from rookie Bruce Zimmermann, the Orioles earned a sweep at Fenway Park and launched into the season with a surprising 3-0 start.

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“It’s just a great confidence booster to this team,” said Zimmermann, the Ellicott City native and Loyola Blakefield graduate who earned his first major league win with his family in attendance. “I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people this year, so this 3-0 start is just the start — literally. But it feels great to get that 3-0 off the bat.”

The first three, however, are likely to carry the Orioles for a while. Friday and Saturday’s wins were built on impressive pitching, sound defense and timely hitting. The time to hit Sunday was simply early and often.

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Cedric Mullins led off a historic day at the plate with a double, advanced on a single by Trey Mancini and scored on a single by Anthony Santander.

Mancini and Santander scored on a double down the left-field line by Maikel Franco to complete the three-run first inning, and the Orioles were unlucky not to score in the second inning before they pummeled Boston in the third.

In chasing starter Garrett Richards and necessitating two pitching changes in the inning, the Orioles sent 12 batters to the plate and scored seven runs. Freddy Galvis had a bases-loaded walk, Austin Hays and Mancini had two-run doubles, Mullins scored on a wild pitch and Ryan Mountcastle singled in the seventh run of the frame. Hays left the game during the inning with right hamstring discomfort and was replaced by Pat Valaika in left field.

“That was a great feeling,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We had really good at-bats. ... A lot of really nice two-strike hitting, a lot of good situational hitting, and we left some runs out there early too. But it’s nice to see guys up and down the order contribute.”

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From that third inning, the Orioles cruised.

Zimmermann, making his first start of the season after earning a rotation spot with a great spring, was efficient in pitching ahead in the strike zone with a lead.

Boston got a run in the third on a sacrifice fly and J.D. Martinez homered on the first pitch of the fourth inning, but Zimmermann wasn’t troubled otherwise.

“That’s not an easy task, what he did, sitting twice for a long time after a long first inning,” Hyde said. “It’s not warm here, and then to pitch with a substantial lead is a lot easier said than done as well, where you saw him get ambushed a couple times. … To be able to go out there and continue to pitch and throw strikes when everybody’s expecting you to throw strikes and be able to execute that says a lot about his poise and his character, because that’s not an easy thing to do.

“I’ve seen that a lot from young pitchers where you get a big lead and all of a sudden they pitch differently. Zim pitched the same and pitched like it was a close ballgame and gave us six really good innings.”

He cruised through six innings on 73 pitches and only Martinez really troubled him all game, adding a run-scoring double in the sixth inning as well. Zimmermann struck out five and allowed three runs on four hits for his first career quality start, handing the game over to Cole Sulser in the seventh inning.

Historic day for Mullins

Mullins entered Sunday tied for the team lead with four hits and doubled that total in the first four innings to spark the Orioles’ big day at the plate.

Mullins doubled in the first inning, doubled again in the second, singled in the third and singled in the fourth, becoming the first Oriole to record four hits in the first four innings.

He missed his chance to chase the team record for hits in a game — six — by drawing a walk in the seventh, but added a double in the ninth for a 5-for-5 day.

“Cedric Mullins set the table for us all three of these games, making things happen,” Hyde said. “On-base six times today, playing great center field defense, just doing everything extremely well.”

According to High Heat Stats, Mullins is the first Oriole with a five-hit game since Mancini on Sept. 24, 2019, and the first Orioles center fielder batting leadoff with a five-hit game since Al Bumbry did it on May 26, 1979.

Mullins is also the first Oriole to record five hits, three doubles and one walk in a game and just the sixth MLB player to do so since 1952. He’s the first Orioles player ever to collect nine hits in the first three games of the season.

Now 9-for-13 on the season, Mullins was one of four Orioles with multihit games, including Mancini, Santander and Rio Ruiz. Galvis reached three times with a hit and a pair of walks.

Wells debuts

After two scoreless innings from Sulser, Rule 5 draft pick Tyler Wells pitched the ninth inning for his major league debut. Wells, who will have to remain on the Orioles’ major league roster for all of the 2021 season or be offered back to the Minnesota Twins, allowed a walk and a single by Christian Vázquez but got Bobby Dalbec to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game.

ORIOLES@YANKEES

Monday, 6:35 p.m.

TV: MASN

Radio: 105.7 FM

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