Another record-low crowd at Camden Yards on Wednesday might have spent most of the night wondering if it wasn’t only their fellow fans that didn’t show up.
Those that came and stayed, however, were treated to the most sensational — and improbable — comeback imaginable in a 9-8 win over the Kansas City Royals before an announced crowd of 4,965 fans.
Trailing 5-0 in the eighth inning with nothing going their way, the Orioles came to life in a way they rarely have this season by scoring nine runs and taking the lead on a dropped fly ball, only for an insurance home run by Ryan Mountcastle to prove crucial when Kansas City scored three times in the ninth.
“We haven’t had many of those type of innings here in the last few years,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
Just as impressive as the nine runs was the quality of at-bats that earned them, especially considering how quiet the Orioles’ bats were early.
Cedric Mullins worked a leadoff walk, went to second on a single by Mountcastle, and scored when Austin Hays extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a double. Pedro Severino battled for a nine-pitch walk to load the bases, then Anthony Santander and pinch-hitter Ramón Urías singled to cut the deficit to 5-3.
Former Royal Kelvin Gutiérrez singled up the middle to score two and tie the game, then center fielder Edward Olivares and right fielder Hunter Dozier let a can-of-corn fly ball fall when Mullins came up again to give the Orioles a 7-5 lead. A two-run home run by Mountcastle made it a nine-run inning and took veteran Matt Harvey off the hook.
Hyde said he hopes the inning is a lesson for his inexperienced team, which set a season-high for runs in an inning and scored nine times in one frame for the first time since Sept. 14, 2020, against the Atlanta Braves.
“I think once you string a few at-bats together, there’s momentum,” Hyde said. “That’s something we’ve had a tough time with, really, this year especially: to be able to put three, four good at-bats together in a row. There’s always a walk in there, but the opposite-field approach by Mountcastle, by Hays, Santander with a really nice piece of hitting, Urías going the other way, that’s how you create rallies and that’s how you create traffic and put pressure on the defense, put pressure on the pitcher.
“That’s something that down the road we’re going to be good at. Right now, we’re inconsistent. But hopefully, these guys can continue to learn that’s how you score runs in this league. It’s not just by pumping a homer. It’s also by moving the baseball on the whole field, getting a walk in there, keeping the line moving.”
Harvey, making his team-high 28th start of the season, had one Wednesday that was quite the rest of them: he pitched to contact and didn’t have it go his way. A two-out single by Andrew Benintendi in the first inning fell just in front of Ryan McKenna in center field, scoring a run. Whit Merrifield doubled, stole third, and scored when the throw went into left field in the third.
The only out he recorded in the fifth was a sacrifice bunt, around three singles.
Fernando Abad allowed just one of the runners he inherited to score on Harvey’s account, and pitched until Marcos Diplán allowed a home run to Salvador Pérez in the seventh inning. A three-run home run by Benintendi off Dillon Tate made it a 9-8 game in the ninth, necessitating Tyler Wells for the final out of the game.
The comeback ensured another sparse crowd at Camden Yards witnessed an Orioles win. On Tuesday, an announced 4,981 — which to that point was the smallest crowd for games without a capacity limit in the stadium’s history — were treated to the memorable debut of right-hander Mike Baumann and a host of young Orioles contributing to the win.
Wednesday was the 19th game with fewer than 10,000 fans at Camden Yards since capacity limits were lifted on June 1.
Manny Barreda debuts
Baltimore Orioles Insider
Right-hander Manny Barreda’s promotion to the majors Tuesday was overshadowed by the simultaneous arrival of pitching prospect Mike Baumann, but his debut Wednesday was just as memorable.
Barreda, 32, was drafted in 2007 by the New York Yankees and pitched four seasons in the Mexican League before the Orioles signed him as a minor league free agent this spring. Counting winter ball, he pitched in 490 games in his career, but never the majors until Wednesday.
Pitching the eighth, Barreda had a 1-2-3 inning that ended with a strikeout of Michael A. Taylor. The comeback meant Barreda earned his first career win.
“This is the pinnacle,” Barreda said. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
According to Stats Perform, Baumann and Barreda each earning wins while pitching in relief in their major league debuts in consecutive games had never happened before in the modern era.
Mancini, Urías sit again
Trey Mancini (oblique) remains “day-to-day,” Hyde said, a designation he also used for Urías (leg) before he pinch-hit in the eighth inning and played shortstop in the ninth.
“Both guys are feeling better today,” Hyde said before the game. “Trey, it’s in an oblique area which you’ve got to be careful with, and Ramón’s been kind of dealing with the leg for a couple months now, just kind of grabbed on him in New York, so we’re still a little bit sore. We’re going to see how he is tomorrow.”