For much of the night in which the Orioles introduced the Bird Bath Splash Zone at Camden Yards, they left their runners out to dry.
But the waterworks came in bunches in the later innings of their 6-3 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates, fueled by center fielder Cedric Mullins recording the seventh cycle in team history.
Having singled in the third, Mullins first provided cause to wet the Bird Bath — with Section 86 above Camden Yards’ left field wall designated for fans to participate in the team’s water-themed celebrations — with a fifth-inning triple, as a man wearing a “Mr. Splash” Orioles jersey hosed down fans in the area on extra-base hits. With the Orioles (25-13) down a run in the seventh, Mullins prompted more water with a double, and Adley Rutschman did the same to tie the game before Ryan Mountcastle followed with a go-ahead single. With two on and two outs in the eighth, Mullins hammered his fifth home run out to right, breaking the game open.
Before the seventh inning, the Orioles’ bats continued to struggle in scoring opportunities, with their lone run coming when Mountcastle led off the sixth with a triple and scored on a wild pitch. With his double, Rutschman, whose spring training “human fountain” act in the team’s talent show inspired the Orioles’ focus on hydration, delivered Baltimore’s first hit of the night in nine at-bats with a runner in scoring position. The Orioles had only five hits in their previous 57 at-bats in those situations.
Mullins’ eighth-inning home run gave them three in their final five such chances as Baltimore improved to 12-1 in series openers by taking the first game from a Pirates (21-18) team that entered as the leader in the National League Central.
Pittsburgh led for much of the night, scoring an unearned run in the third inning against Orioles starter Kyle Bradish. Shortstop Jorge Mateo double-clutched on an infield single that opened the inning, second baseman Adam Frazier bobbled a potential double-play ball and Mateo threw home wildly attempting to cut down the runner trying to score for an error.
But it was the only run in Bradish’s six innings. In the past seven games — against the first-place Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays and Pirates — the Orioles’ starters posted a 2.04 ERA with four quality starts; the rotation managed six such outings in Baltimore’s first 32 games.
After Mountcastle evened the score, Danny Coulombe allowed a home run in the top of the seventh, but Mullins sparked the Orioles’ rally in the bottom half. His home run gave Baltimore a four-run lead and eliminated a save opportunity for Félix Bautista, but after Austin Voth allowed the first three Pirates to reach in the ninth, manager Brandon Hyde called upon his closer. Bautista struck out all three batters he faced to earn his ninth save.
Around the horn
- The Orioles optioned left-hander Drew Rom to Triple-A Norfolk after Wednesday’s game and promoted left-hander Nick Vespi ahead of Friday’s. Rom, a starting pitching prospect, was called up for the first time to provide length out of the bullpen, but he went unneeded in two games on the roster before Thursday’s off day left the bullpen fully rested. Vespi had a 2.84 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 12 2/3 innings in 12 appearances with Triple-A Norfolk.
- Hyde said infielder Ramón Urías, placed on the 10-day injured list this week with a left hamstring strain, is “doing well” but is expected to miss two to three weeks.
- After pitching rehabilitation outings on consecutive days Wednesday and Thursday, reliever Mychal Givens (left knee inflammation) is “pretty close” to being activated from IL but might have another rehab appearance.
- Reiterating a point executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias made this offseason, Hyde said the Orioles hope to avoid shutting down rookie starter Grayson Rodriguez, saying the club doesn’t have a set innings limit for their top pitching prospect. “As of right now, we don’t have any restrictions on him,” Hyde said. “If he can go eight [innings in a start], I’m gonna let him go eight.”
- After Friday’s game, Hyde drove to Syracuse to attend his daughter Aria’s college graduation. Hyde joked that bench coach Fredi González had given him a list of relievers he couldn’t use Friday so they would be available when González managed in his stead Saturday.
This story will be updated.
Pirates at Orioles
Saturday, 7:05 p.m.
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM
Source: Berkshire mont