The euphoria stemming from the start of the Baltimore Orioles season has yet to wear off. Friday night, CF Cedric Mullins became the seventh player in team history to hit the cycle during a 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Mullins mashed a single in the third inning, blazed through the bases for a triple in the fifth and found the gap in right-center for a double in the seventh. He finished his incredible night with a towering home run into right field that sent fans into a frenzy. He also had a SportsCenter Top 10 moment on defense with a diving catch.
After completing the cycle in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Orioles sent Mullins out to his position in center field before the top of the ninth. That gave the fans inside Oriole Park a chance to give him a proper standing ovation since he wouldn’t be batting again.
“I immediately knew as soon as the third out was made, that they were doing that,” Mullins said postgame, via ESPN. “They went on and sent me out there. Just to have a great crowd out there today, and to be able to share the moment with a lot of people was fun.”
And of course, Mullins’ manager was more excited about a defensive play he made than anything he did in the box.
“What a special night for Cedric. What a great player,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Makes the diving catch in center field, just does everything tonight offensively.”
The Orioles continue their winning ways
The Orioles and Pirates are two teams that have exploded onto the scene in 2023.
Last season, Baltimore finished fourth in the AL East with an 82-79 record. They finished 16.0 games back from the top spot but still managed to earn a spot in the Wild Card. They would end up losing to the Toronto Blue Jays in two games, but it was a promising start for a group of young, talented players.
Pittsburgh on the other hand, went 62-100 and 2023 seemed like it would be no different. Instead, the Pirates finished April with a 20-9 record — the best in the NL Central at the time. They were also the second-fastest team to log 20 wins this season.
They began May by losing six straight to the Tampa Bay Rays on the road and the Blue Jays at home. After the two sweeps, Pittsburgh dropped two of three against the Colorado Rockies the next series. Now, they’ve lost the series opener against the Orioles on Friday and are now 1-9 in their last 10 games. Despite this, they’re still only half a game back from the Milwaukee Brewers atop the NL Central standings.