Little League HR, triples aplenty for speedy O's

April 9th, 2019

BALTIMORE -- The extra motivation, Richie Martin says, doesn’t come from the opposing dugout, where the team that left him unprotected last winter watched Martin’s best game as a Major Leaguer to date Monday night at Oriole Park. In fact, he may have to look no further than down the row of lockers in the clubhouse. In the space between his locker and Cedric Mullins’, a friendly competition is forming between two of the fastest Orioles. 

“Now I have to beat him,” Mullins said, after the two players turned Baltimore’s 12-4 win over the A’s into a track meet. “My stride was halted at second base each time! I have to work on that turn.” 

Martin, too, claimed he didn’t reach full speed in his first career three-bagger in the sixth inning. But his dash around the bases was elite nonetheless, and represented just a sample of the history he and Mullins combined to make when they turned Camden Yards into Triple City. Mullins tripled twice (in the second and fourth innings) and Martin once to pace a 15-hit attack, marking the first time in nearly 26 years the Orioles notched a franchise-record three triples in the same game. Their efforts helped snap a four-game losing streak for the Birds. 

“They sparked us all night,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Making things happen.” 

The last time the Orioles hit three triples in a game was April 29, 1993, against the Twins, when Cal Ripken Jr., Mike Devereaux and Harold Reynolds all did. That was long before Statcast, and now the tracking technology allows us to shed light on the feat even more. Mullins needed just 11.05 seconds to go home-to-third on his two-run, second-inning triple off of A’s starter Marco Estrada, and he scored after Jurickson Profar’s relay throw skipped into foul ground.

“Do I have enough to get home?” Mullins thought while rising to his feet. “My legs felt like they were about to give out. That was a long trip for me.” 

More remarkable was how Mullins beat his own time two innings later, needing just 10.99 seconds to get to third after pulling an Estrada curve into the right-center field gap.  

Mullins posted the fastest home-to-third time by an Orioles player since Statcast began tracking in 2015. It also marked the quickest speed on a tracked triple in Major League Baseball this season. 

Until Martin eclipsed it two innings later. 

“What?” was Martin’s reaction. “How?” 

To start, Martin reached a top sprint speed of 28.9 feet per second, per Statcast, even though “my running mechanics were totally off,” he said.  

“I think I almost tripped going around second base,” Martin admitted.  

He still pulled in to third safely only 10.95 seconds after leaving the batter’s box, besting the records Mullins set earlier in the game.  

“What the heck?” Martin said. “That’s crazy.”

It was a banner night for the two youngsters, whose development figures to be a major focus for the Orioles this summer. Martin, a rookie, entered play batting 2-for-23 (.087) this season; he had three hits and scored thrice Monday. Mullins began the day hitting 2-for-22 (.091); he drove in a career-best three runs. They were far from the only Orioles to contribute. Jonathan Villar (4 RBI) and Trey Mancini (3 hits) both homered, Hanser Alberto drove in two and the bullpen enjoyed its best night of the young season. But their wheels stole the show and the night was especially sweet for Martin, who the Orioles took in December’s Rule 5 Draft after the A’s left him unprotected. 

“Both those guys have not had the start they wanted and the way they swung the bats tonight was outstanding,” Hyde said. “I'm really happy for both of them. Tonight made them feel good. I know they were pressing a little bit, and to get some big hits was huge.”

Mullins also became the first Orioles player to triple twice in the same game since Alejandro de Aza on Sept. 12, 2014, against the Yankees. He was able to trot home the second time, scoring on a two-run Jonathan Villar homer that gave Baltimore a 6-2 lead. A’s center fielder Mark Cahna sliced into that lead with a solo home run in the top of the fifth off Orioles starter Andrew Cashner.