Phillip Peters/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

BALTIMORE — On the day that a new fan club made its debut inside of Oriole Park, Baltimore center fielder Cedric Mullins went out and put on a performance that left the supporters all wet.

In this case, being wet is a good thing, like what Mullins ended up being during his the post-game interview after accomplishing a rare feat in the history of the franchise.

Mullins hit for the cycle on Friday night, with the final piece coming on a three-run home run in the eighth inning to give the Orioles breathing room in their 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates to start a three-game set. Kyle Bradish continued the stellar form of the Orioles’ starting rotation over the past week, allowing just an unearned run on three hits over six innings to keep Baltimore in the game long enough before mounting another comeback victory.

Mullins becomes the seventh player in Orioles’ franchise history (since 1954) to hit for the cycle, with teammate Austin Hays the last to do it for the Orioles in a game against the Washington Nationals on June 22 of last season. Unlike Hays’ feat last season, Mullins pulled off his accomplishment in front of the “Bird Bath,” a newly-formed fan club taking residence in Section 86, situated right behind the 398-foot designation on the left-center field wall, that made its debut tonight. Led by a fan wearing an Orioles jersey with the name tag “Mr. Splash,” the spectators in that section get doused with water for every time an Oriole batter records an extra base hit.

What better way to break in the extra-base-hit-induced waterworks by having a one of the rarest hitting feats in Major League Baseball occurring on the same night, right? Already three-fourths of the way toward the cycle, Mullins was due up fifth in the eighth inning — a frame that Baltimore entered holding a 3-2 lead — but saw his chances of coming up to bat diminished by teammate Jorge Mateo grounding into a double play two batters before Cedric’s time at-bat.

With Hays on third base, Terrin Vavra worked out a walk after running the count full, giving Mullins his opportunity at history — and giving the Orioles some insurance. On a 1-1 pitch, Mullins deposited a change-up from Pirates reliever Duane Underwood Jr. over the right field wall to set off the fireworks in the evening sky and the spray guns in Section 86.

“That’s a highly-anticipated moment right there, and it was huge for me to come through for the team,” Mullins said. “You obviously know that you’re a single swing away from the cycle, but at the same time, you’re trying to get a job done, drive some runs in, and everything just kind of fell in line.”

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday evening’s contest, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Phillip Peters. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 31 pictures in total.

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Tags : Baltimore OriolesCedric MullinsMajor League BaseballPittsburgh Pirates

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