O's battle back to take back-to-back extras wins

Mullins drills walk-off RBI double after Odor helps Baltimore rally with game-tying homer

July 6th, 2022

BALTIMORE -- It’s one of those nights -- those muggy, summer nights in the Charm City -- that you had to be there to truly appreciate all the winds and turns, the implosions and heroics, the go-ahead knocks and fall-behind pitches.

The Orioles’ 10-9 walk-off win over the Rangers in the 10th inning on Tuesday night at Camden Yards was their wildest of the year, a staunch bullpen nicked repeatedly but a palpable confidence steering them through the turbulence. Cedric Mullins’ game-winning double sent Baltimore to its second walk-off win over Texas in as many days and its seventh of the season, trailing only the Yankees’ mark of 10.

Such a tenacious attitude feels newfound this season.

“Sometimes we seemed to drop out of these games, but not this team in 2022,” said Trey Mancini. “We're never out of a game, I feel like, and that game was the epitome of who this team is. We never gave up. We give up some leads at times, but we're always going to battle back.”

According to STATS, the Orioles are the first team in AL/NL history to allow a game-tying or go-ahead homer in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings of a game and still go on to win. Key wording: win.

“We feel good about our bullpen and it not to happen,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, “but to be able to bang with them to take the lead, it shows a lot about our character.”

The night’s final docket somehow listed just two lead changes -- Anthony Santander’s single in the seventh and Corey Seager’s two-run homer off Félix Bautista in the ninth -- before Mullins’ heroics. But along the way came enough bullpen hiccups and craziness to fill a week’s worth of content. Here are a few of the key moments:

Odor goes zero to hero
As soon as Rougned Odor returned to the dugout after his lackluster effort on Marcus Semien’s infield single, which set up Seager’s go-ahead homer in the ninth, his disappointment was palpable. As soon as he hammered a game-tying homer in the bottom of the frame, the emotions had flipped.

From a slumped head to kisses blown to those still in attendance, the vibe king had arrived.

“You can't really say enough about him,” Mancini said. “The energy he brings every single day, he's the same person. You would never know if things are going good or bad for him, and I think that's one of the best qualities a baseball player can have. He just brings such a good energy, such a good presence and makes everybody around him better. He’s been amazing for us this year.”

Odor has been the heart and soul of the Orioles to date despite a trying season production-wise. He’s the proprietor of the Home Run Chain, the conductor of the celebrations and good feelings emanating from the dugout, along with Robinson Chirinos.

Both are playing against the franchise with which they formed their bond.

“[Odor’s] a warrior,” Hyde said. “He's inspirational, he's got energy and he loves to play. He’s a tough dude.”

Mullins’ re-emergence continues
Perhaps most important from Tuesday’s fireworks was the quiet work Mullins did prior to them. His game-winning swing was his fifth time on base on the night as part of two walks, two doubles and a single to go with three RBIs and two runs scored.

Such a night has been more expected than surprising. In 29 games featuring a plate appearance since June 1, including Tuesday, Mullins is slashing .319/.375/.483 (.858 OPS) with 12 doubles and just 19 strikeouts against 11 walks. Entering June, those numbers sat at .236/.297/.365 (.662 OPS) across 50 games, with just nine two-baggers and 42 strikeouts against 13 walks.

Confidence has been central to Mullins’ turnaround, and those numbers certainly fuel it.

“Just feeling more comfortable in the box,” Mullins said. “It's a huge confidence booster, and I think it's really just putting better swings on the ball more consistently.”.

Mullins’ return to form is not just a welcome sign for him but the Orioles as a whole. The expectations of repeating a 30-30 season have attempted to be cast aside from those around him; Baltimore just wants to see him as a table-setter atop the lineup. And wouldn’t you know it’s Mullins who leads all O's in both bWAR and fWAR even with Tuesday’s production notwithstanding.

The bullpen goes awry
According to Joey Krehbiel, Tuesday’s winning pitcher who stranded the bases loaded in the 10th, the recent blips from the Orioles’ bullpen -- three blown saves in their past five games and one tie game relinquished in the ninth on Monday -- are magnified only because of the staunchness prior.

“In our opinion, I think we've been nails all year,” Krehbiel said. “For us to have a couple bad games, if we spread that out over the course of the season, no one would even ask the question. It’s just a thing we're going through, and I'm sure it'll be gone by tomorrow.”

As Mancini sees it, the Orioles’ offense coming through after Texas scored all nine of its runs from the fifth inning on was a chance to simply pay back the bullpen.

“It was a rare game where the offense had to carry us,” Mancini said. “The pitching has done such a good job this year, so it felt good as an offense to pick them up a little bit tonight.”