After a celebration as raucous as Sunday’s, how much energy a team will have to play nine competitive innings the following day is a question.
It wasn’t for the playoff-bound Orioles, who are simply too good, too scrappy and too clutch to go away when they’re supposed to.
Gunnar Henderson, Ryan O’Hearn, Cedric Mullins and the rest of Baltimore’s lineup partied hard Sunday and played just as hard — OK, maybe not that hard — 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 walk-off sacrifice fly Sunday sent the Orioles into celebration mode, did it again with a go-ahead three-run home run in the ninth inning en route to a hold-your-breath 8-7 victory.
Mullins was in position to play hero again after Baltimore’s bullpen blew a two-run lead in the sixth and allowed six runs in three innings after five solid frames from John Means in his second start back from the injured list. Down two in the ninth and facing Astros closer Ryan Pressly, O’Hearn smacked 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 back 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 deliver the club’s 48th comeback win of the season. Cano came on with two outs and a runner on third base and needed only three pitches to strike out Chas McCormick to seal it.
Baltimore is 94-56 and increases its lead over the Tampa Bay Rays as the American League’s best team 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 is not a candidate for the injured list despite missing his fifth straight game with left shoulder discomfort. “He’s doing better,” Hyde said. “I think he’s going to be back soon.”
- Kyle Gibson will start Tuesday but the team didn’t announce the starter for Wednesday’s series finale. If they stay on turn, Kyle Bradish would take the ball.
- Mullins won the Chevrolet Electric Play of the Week with his diving catch in 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