Urías caps big day with walk-off hit for split

April 14th, 2021

When the Orioles optioned to their alternate training site to make roster space for earlier this week, it created a sizeable opportunity for rookie as the lone infielder on Baltimore’s three-man bench. He’s taking advantage of it.

The most glaring example came Tuesday, when Urías enjoyed a banner day across both halves of the Orioles’ doubleheader against the Mariners. Urías homered in the club's 4-3 loss in Game 1, then sent the O’s to a walk-off 7-6 win in Game 2 at Oriole Park. His game-winning single off Casey Sadler helped the O’s salvage a split of their first 2021 twin bill, and also claim their first home victory of the season. The come-from-behind win also marked just their second victory in eight games since their season-opening sweep in Boston.

"This is the first walk-off for me in my career,” Urías said through team translator Ramon Alarcon. “It felt awesome and great. I am very happy we were able to come through and get this win tonight.”

On this night, those heroics undid the damage done to Dean Kremer, whose three-inning, four-run outing pushed the young righty’s season ERA to 10.50 through two starts.

Urías had help. Maikel Franco’s three-run double in the third inning dug the O’s out of an early hole and Ryan Mountcastle showed further signs of breaking out of his season-opening slump by scoring Franco with a game-tying single one batter later. Cedric Mullins extended his hitting streak to 15 games (he’s also hitting .442 and leading the Majors in hits) with a go-ahead double off Seattle reliever Will Vest in the fourth, which held until Sam Haggerty’s two-run game-tying homer off Adam Plutko in the seventh.

That set the stage for Urías, who signed with the Cardinals out of the Mexican League in 2018, but, blocked in St. Louis by established infielders Kolten Wong and Paul DeJong, stalled at Triple-A. He arrived in the Orioles’ system via waivers on Feb. 11, 2020, and he made his MLB debut on Aug. 20, hitting .360 (9-for-25) with three extra-base hits in 10 games down the stretch. Urías then showed well this spring, impressing the Orioles with his versatility and ability to put together tough at-bats from the right side of the plate.

He’s started two of four games at second base since Valaika’s optioning, also profiling as the O’s primary utility option.

“Today, I had some pretty good swings and I was able to make some hard contact,” Urías said. “I’m very happy I was able to contribute to the victory for my team. I am looking forward to continuing to receive more opportunities and show what I can do out there.”

Said manager Brandon Hyde: “He got a huge hit for us in a game we needed. It was a tough day up until that point. That was a big hit and uplifting for us.”

The manager’s hope is it helps spark an offense that has operated largely in fits and starts, at least in the early-going. Mullins and Franco are the bright spots, with Mullins white-hot out of the leadoff spot and Franco (team-high 12 RBIs) benefitting. But Mancini (0-for-7 Tuesday, hitting .159 overall), Mountcastle and Freddy Galvis (1-for-5 Tuesday; .162 season average) remain mired in deep slumps, though Mountcastle’s progress Tuesday was plain to see.

“We’re just trying to get better,” Hyde said. “We see a lot of pressing going on with our hitters. Hopefully, rallies like we had and wins like this can relax some guys. But we have a lot of guys pressing at the plate like that, so to get some big hits in big spots, that was huge for us. Hopefully we can get some momentum going.”