During their weekend series in Florida, the Orioles craved a huge hit. Desperate to erupt with loaded bases in the second innings of Monday’s home opener at Camden Yards, his fanbase shared the sentiment.
Cedric Mullins delivered a two-run single smacking down the middle that provided all the offense of the game as Baltimore beat the Milwaukee Brewers 2-0 to secure their first win of 2022 in front of a declared sell-out crowd of 44,461. A day after being shut down to end the Tampa Bay Rays sweep, Loyola Blakefield product Bruce Zimmerman took four Reliever to do the same with the Brewers (1-3), the National League Central champions.
After the final score matched Baltimore’s victory in the opening game at Camden Yards 30 years earlier, the anniversary celebration of that first season began with an energetic ballpark. Zimmerman joined in as well, ending the second innings with a strikeout to slam a Brewer into the scoring position. At the bottom, Mullins gave the left-handed batsman and fans even more reason to celebrate.
“It was obvious,” said Zimmerman, the first Maryland-born pitcher to start the Orioles’ home opener since 1990. “That punchout and running and hearing the ‘Bruce’ chant and everything, which really hit and fired me up a little bit more. It was feeling the adrenaline, but not getting it too big, but then hearing the chants And then Seed pushed a two-run single there, it was everything you could want as a starting pitcher.
Mullins’ single was the Orioles’ only hit in 10 at-bats, with one runner in the scoring position on Monday, leaving them 3-for-34 in those positions in their first four games. Monday, at least, it seemed to be partly a case of bad luck. According to Statcast, Baltimore’s hitters hit nine balls at 98 mph or more, which turned six outs, with three exceptions being the three with the highest exit velocity: a pair of Mullins hits and Anthony Santander, who hit four. The bar reached the base.
In his first at-bat in what proved to be his final Camden Yards home opener as the Oriole, Trey Mancini bowled a ball toward right-center field, opposite the direction of the iconic ballpark’s new, deep left-hand wall, much of which Had little effect on the result in his debut. But Milwaukee center fielder Tyrone Taylor took an impressive catch to the wall, reaching 104.9 mph, giving Statcast an expected batting average of .950. An innings later, Taylor snatched a sharp liner from Austin Hayes.
“We’ve hit a ton of balls on the nose,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Luck wasn’t going our way aggressively.”
But a pair of walks from under the order loaded the bases for Mullins. Since taking Baltimore’s first pitch of the season in his right hand, Mullins had dismissed in eight of 13 plate appearances. He sent a 2-1 sinker from Adrian Houser in the middle to score the two runners, with speedster Jorge Matteo thrashing the throw home for the latter run, pumping his first later.
“It was awesome,” Mullins said. “It was an exciting moment, and we’re hoping there’s a lot out there.”
Hyde, after his first win in four home openers as manager of the Orioles, echoed Mullins’ singles calling “one of the loudest moments here since I’ve been here”. He hopes the club can provide fans with reasons to repeat it – and come to the ballpark in the first place – over the summer.
“We have to give them something to please,” Hyde said. “We have to give them something to root for.”
After a brief spring training, starting pitchers around the league will be handled carefully as they spread out over the season. Such was the case with Zimmerman on Monday, who was pulled after four innings and 66 pitches, with the Brewers heading the top for the third time.
Hyde handed the game to Mike Baumann, starting his season in 2021 after struggling in some relief performances. Baumann recorded the next seven outs without conceding a run.
Hyde had hoped to use a similar tandem approach in Sunday’s game, with Dean Kramer coming in behind Tyler Wells. But Kramer suffered a left oblique strain while warming up, and before Monday’s game, they placed him on a 10-day injured list, which Hyde said he could miss by a month. The Orioles filled two open roster spots by recalling left-hander Alexander Wells and opting to contract right-hander Spencer Watkins, with outfielder DJ Stewart substituted after Sunday’s game.
The Orioles (1-3) have yet to announce Tuesday’s starter, Baltimore could piggyback the pair as their first series win of the year.
Hyde managed to take the win for the first time this season, showing how well he can deploy his reliever in such situations.
Behind Bauman, Dillon Tate received the last two outs out of seventh, with one runner and Bauman each leaving the Brewers 0-for-6 with the runners in the scoring position. Left-hander Seonel Perez scored in eighth place, having scored eight scoreless outings, including spring training, as Baltimore claimed him on a waiver from the Cincinnati Reds on the off-season.
Right-hander Jorge López, who Hyde has said will pitch in the biggest venues of the games, will finish ninth, save his second career and earn his first with the Orioles after spending the last year as a middling starter .
“Very good game from our people,” Hyde said.
The Orioles are among the teams to use the pitchcom, a device where the catcher calls out pitches by pressing a button to send an audio relay to the pitchers and three fielders. But he had to stop in the middle of Monday’s game.
The brewers had issues with their pitchcom systems, and for fairness, the Orioles had to stop using the device. With this they have their own technical difficulties; During Saturday’s game, catcher Robinson Chirinos was not listening to calls even though all his teammates were, leading to confusion. But on Monday from the Orioles side, they were able to go ahead and complete the shutout.
“It was no big deal,” Baumann said. “Just go back to using signs like normal.”
Brewers @ Orioles
Tuesday, 7:05 pm
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