After a celebration as raucous as Sunday’s, it’s a question of how much energy a team will need to play nine rounds of competition the next day.
It wasn’t for the playoff-bound Orioles, who are simply too good, too scrappy and too tight to pull away when they’re supposed to.
Gunnar Henderson, Ryan O’Hearn, Cedric Mullins and the rest of the Baltimore team celebrated Sunday and played just as hard – OK, maybe not that tough — Monday against the Houston Astros.
Henderson twice sprinted 270 feet around the bases. O’Hearn recorded the first five-hit game of his six-year career. And Mullins, whose sacrifice fly Sunday sent the Orioles into celebration mode, did it again with a three-run home run in the ninth inning en route to a hold-your-breath 8-7 victory.
Mullins was in position to play the hero again after Baltimore’s bullpen blew a two-run lead in the sixth and allowed six runs in three innings after five strong frames from John Means in his second roster start injuried people. Down two in the ninth and facing Astros closer Ryan Pressly, O’Hearn hit his fifth hit of the night and Austin Hays put Mullins in his favorite spot – batting with runners in scoring position.
The center fielder stayed behind on a 2-1 slider and deposited it over the right-field fence to give the Orioles an 8-7 lead that relievers Cionel Pérez and Yennier Cano combined to hold in the ninth to give the club the 48th comeback victory of the season. Cano entered the game with two outs and a runner on third base and needed only three pitches to strike out Chas McCormick and seal it.
Baltimore is 94-56 and extends its lead over the Tampa Bay Rays as the best team in the American League to 2 1/2 games. The Orioles’ magic number to win the AL East is nine.
Around the horn
- Manager Brandon Hyde maintained that first baseman Ryan Mountcastle was not a candidate for the injured list despite playing in his fifth straight game with left shoulder discomfort. “He’s doing better,” Hyde said. “I think he’ll be back soon.”
- Kyle Gibson will start Tuesday, but the team has not announced the starter for Wednesday’s series finale. If they stay in turn, Kyle Bradish would take the ball.
- Mullins won the Chevrolet Electric Play of the Week title with his diving socket during Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
This story will be updated.
Orioles at Astros
Tuesday, 8:10 p.m.
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM