KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Orioles’ first game after their historic April went much like their first 19 wins of the season.
Baltimore trailed 3-0 early, and it appeared as if the momentum from the club’s scorching hot April — one of the best opening months in team history — wouldn’t carry over into the first game of May.
But then Ryan Mountcastle opened the floodgates in the fourth inning with his first of two home runs, as the Orioles scored five runs in the frame en route to an 11-7 win over the host Kansas City Royals.
The Orioles sent two across the plate in the fifth inning and three more in the sixth, and Mountcastle partook in all three crooked innings. The first baseman hit a two-run home run in the fourth, another two-run shot in the fifth and an RBI double in the sixth.
“Great game offensively, he’s a huge part of our lineup,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Mountcastle. “He’s a run-producer for us. He has a ton of power. It’s great to see him deliver tonight.”
The multihomer game was the eighth of Mountcastle’s career and his second this season; the first was his nine-RBI night against the Oakland Athletics on April 11.
Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, Adley Rutschman, Jorge Mateo, James McCann and Ramón Urías all drove in at least one run, and starting pitcher Tyler Wells overcame a rough first inning to complete six frames and claim his second win of the season.
The Orioles (20-9) are 10-0 in series openers and have won 12 of their past 14 games as they maintain the second-best record in the American League. The triumph is their 10th in come-from-behind fashion this year.
Baltimore won six straight series to close April and is now one more win in Kansas City away from making it seven. The 19 wins through April were the most in franchise history, and the series against the lowly Royals (7-23) precedes a difficult May schedule that includes seven teams that are above .500.
“It’s huge,” Mountcastle said of the Orioles’ success in series openers. “Go out there and get a win like that, especially [when] you’re down a little early, is a big confidence booster. Hopefully, we can roll it into the next two games.”
Wells surrendered two home runs — a solo shot to leadoff hitter Bobby Witt Jr. and a two-run long ball from MJ Melendez — in the first inning as the Royals jumped out to a 3-0 advantage. The 28-year-old right-hander wouldn’t allow another hit until the sixth inning when Salvador Pérez launched a solo home run.
Wells, the Orioles’ best starting pitcher through the first month of the season, had allowed four homers in his first 29 innings, but he was able to work around the three he gave up Tuesday. The other three runs the Orioles allowed came off reliever Mike Baumann in the seventh, as the right-hander gave up an RBI double to Vinnie Pasquantino and a two-run home run to Pérez.
“He got better as the game went on,” Hyde said. “He put zeros up after that until that last inning in the sixth. He showed a lot, honestly. Giving up three there in the first inning and then be able to come back, we score five in the fourth and he put up a couple more zeros up after that.”
Left-handed reliever Cionel Pérez got the final out of the seventh, and right-handers Bryan Baker and Yennier Cano each pitched a scoreless inning to end the game. Cano allowed an infield single to open the ninth, ending his 0-for-32 hitless streak to begin the season.
Wells (2-1) has pitched into the sixth in all five of his starts this season and has yet to allow more than four runs in any outing. He scattered three hits and three walks while striking out four in his six innings of four-run ball.
Wells was heavily aided by his defense, as third baseman Gunnar Henderson, Mountcastle and center fielder Mullins all made web gems to steal hits.
“The one word to put it in was a grind,” Wells said. “Obviously, the three walks, the hit batter — those are not things I want to give up. I could sit there and focus on the negative all day long, but I just really want to point out the fact that my defense really had my back tonight.”
Mullins’ diving catch on the warning track in right-center field drew praise from his manager and teammates.
“I say to [Mullins] all the time, ‘If you don’t get a Gold Glove, I’m gonna go hunt those people down,’” Wells said jokingly. “He truly is incredible.”
“Cedric Mullins made the play of the year for me,” Hyde said. “How about that play? What was the Statcast on that play?”
Mullins traveled 102 feet to track the ball down, according to MLB’s database.
With the way Kansas City left-hander Ryan Yarbrough has pitched, it seemed as if the three runs were all the Royals were going to need. The former Tampa Bay Ray continued his success against Baltimore and retired the first 10 batters in order. He struck out the first five he faced, an odd sight considering Yarbrough had set down only seven in his first 17 innings this year.
Rutschman, who went 4-for-5 with two doubles, broke up the nascent perfect game with a double, the Orioles’ first of 15 hits. Mountcastle then put the quarter in the merry-go-round with a home run to left field that he tattooed 112.2 mph — his hardest-batted ball since September 2021 and the fourth-fastest exit velo of his career.
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“It was a great win for the team,” Mountcastle said. “Anytime you can get some RBIs, drive some runs in, it’s huge, and we needed ‘em tonight.”
Six straight Orioles then reached base, as McCann, who recorded his first three-hit game as an Oriole, singled home a run and Mullins went the other way for a two-run single. Henderson, who reached base via walk for the first of three times Tuesday, displayed his slick sliding skills to evade the tag at the plate. Mullins is 12-for-26 with runners in scoring position and ranks second on the team with 23 RBIs.
Mountcastle’s second home run traveled 433 feet and put the Orioles up 7-3. Rutschman then doubled home Mullins in the sixth, Mountcastle roped a two-bagger to score Rutschman — his fifth RBI of the game and team-leading 26th of the season — and Mateo grounded out to bring home Mountcastle. The Orioles’ final run came in the eighth on an RBI single from Urías to score Santander, who singled on the 16th pitch of his at-bat off Royals reliever Taylor Clarke.
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