Big innings have eluded the Orioles offense for weeks, but they managed to string a pair together in Sunday’s season finale against the Toronto Blue Jays at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field to finish the year with a 7-5 victory.
Trailing 4-1 in the fourth inning after a pair of home runs chased rookie starter Keegan Akin, the Orioles tied the game when Cedric Mullins drove in two runs with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Austin Hays.
They pulled ahead in a three-run fifth inning in which Rio Ruiz had a run-scoring double, Hanser Alberto grounded out to push across a second and Pat Valaika had a single to drive in a third.
Sunday’s victory meant the Orioles finish at 25-35, which would have been a 68-94 pace in a 162-game season, and finished ahead of the last-place Boston Red Sox.
It was a far fall from the 40-game mark of the season, when the Orioles went to New York with the playoffs within reach.
Mullins ended up with two triples to give him three this season, but it could have been an even bigger day. When he came up with two outs in the second inning, his rope down the right-field line looked like it would sneak over the wall, but J.D. Davis leapt to catch it and keep it in the ballpark.
Mullins, Mountcastle and Núñez had two hits apiece to pace the Orioles.
A little from Akin ...
If Tuesday’s start in Boston wasn’t the way Akin wanted to end his season, this might not have been, either.
As is the case with the Orioles' young left-hander, the strikeouts were there early. He had three strikeouts through two and allowed a second-inning sacrifice fly, but things fell apart in a long third inning.
With two outs, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. homered around a single by Randal Grichuk to leave Akin with four runs allowed on five hits in three innings, leaving his ERA at 4.56 for the year.
... and a lot from the bullpen
Travis Lakins Sr. took over with two hitless innings of relief after Akin left, then Paul Fry and Hunter Harvey combined for two scoreless innings, and Shawn Armstrong allowed an unearned run in the eighth.
Cesar Valdez, the Orioles' 35-year old minor league free agent, recorded his third save opportunity in as many chances with a scoreless ninth.
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