BOSTON — Perhaps the most amazing part of the Orioles’ implosion at Fenway Park on Saturday was that the outfield defenses fell apart — and that particular unit has had its troubles since the start of the season on Thursday.

“We have some areas that we need to clean up. That was atypical before,” said outfielder Austin Hays. “But it just has to get better. Just say it. We have to get better out there.”

In the first two games at Fenway Park — the Orioles’ 10-9 win in their opener and their 9-8 collapse on Saturday afternoon — there were nine games where the Orioles outfielders had a solid chance of catching a flyball or at least minimize his damage and came up short.

The most obvious – and the one that changed Saturday’s result – was left fielder Ryan McKenna’s inability to win the game at the end of the ninth game. Although McKenna had to run for it, it was a routine fly, hopping in and out of his glove.

It breathed new life into Boston, and next batter, Adam Duvall, hit a walk-off, two-run homer just above the Green Monster against Orioles, closer to Félix Bautista, and gave the Red Sox a one-game win, in which they once trailed 7-1.

“I ran into it pretty hard. It was way up in the sky, and I guess I just didn’t follow it to the end. It hit my glove and just fell off,” McKenna said. “It was an unfortunate moment. Bautista threw one hell of an inning there and all of our guys worked really hard to win that game.

McKenna is the club’s fourth fielder. He is on the team to provide good defense and base running and occasionally comes into play. That he would be the one to drop an easy ball is hard to fathom.

“It ends up being heartbreaking. But I have great faith in McKenna. I’ve seen him make some amazing games. I know he’s a great outfield player,” Hays said. “If you play this game long enough, you are bound to experience one of those games. … He makes this catch 999 times out of a thousand.”

McKenna is in the spotlight, but every Orioles outfielder in this series has failed to make the plays they normally make. Hays, who was driving 5-for-5 for the first time in his career and also hit a homer on Saturday, has twice walked unwise paths in this series.

Gold Glove caliber midfielder Cedric Mullins has failed to snag a deep fly down the middle in consecutive games. Anthony Santander threw a ball over his head and dropped another in front of him on Thursday.

Mistakes happen. And we’ve been pretty spoiled by this device over the past few years, so these flaws stand out. However, that is no excuse.

“We have some really good defensive outfield players. We’ve just had a couple of tough games, to be honest. Difficult conditions recently. It’s a bit windy today, but we’ll play better outfield defence,” said Hyde. “We just didn’t play our best defense here for the first few games but we have to.”

Ahead of Saturday’s game, Mullins said he’s adjusted to playing in the sun again after defending in a dome during much of spring training as part of the World Baseball Classic. He wasn’t worried at all about his defensive play or his fellow fielders.

“Just battling the elements, but that’s a quick transition for us,” Mullins said. “We’ve always been strong out there and that’s not changing.”

How concerned am I about the Orioles’ outfield defense? On a scale of one to 10, probably a three. tops. It was not good. But these guys have a track record of playing their positions well. And that usually means more than a few bad days.

Jorge Mateo, Orioles Off to the Races

Shortstop Jorge Mateo said in spring practice he could “put it on the books” that he could steal 50 bases this year. He chuckled when asked about this Saturday. But he’s gotten a head start.

For the second straight game earlier in the season, Mateo stole two bases.

The first Saturday second inning was part of a double steal with Mullins, and for a moment it was unsettling.

Mateo was safe in third but was accidentally stabbed in the right hand on the slide by Boston third baseman Rafael Devers. Mateo had several cuts above the knuckle on his right index finger but stayed in the game. He said the area still hurt after the game, but he could move the finger and didn’t think it would be a problem.

He is the second player since 2000 to steal two bases in each of his first two games of a season and is joining Tommy Pham in 2020.

The Orioles set an MLB record as a team to start a season with five stolen bases in each of their first two games. The 10 stolen bases in a two-game span is the most in franchise history.

The leadoff experiment doesn’t light the fire

Hyde faced left-hander Chris Sale and brought right-hander Ramón Urías into the starting spot, dropping traditional leadoff batsman Mullins to eighth in the lineup. It worked for Mullins, who had a single in the second and a homer in the third against Sale.

The move didn’t go so smoothly for Urías, who had never struggled at the top in his 214 games in the top division. He hit in all five at-bats and was the only oriole not to make base safely in the first five innings Saturday afternoon.

It is only the second time in modern franchise history that an Oriole has struck in all five at-bats in a game and joined Don Buford in August 1971. The franchise record is six strikeouts in a game, set by Sam Horn in 1991; Horn did that in seven at-bats.

I’m not sure we’ll see Uría’s bat leadoff again. But I guarantee this: expect Hyde to tinker with his lineup all season. Hyde and general manager Mike Elias intentionally designed this roster to be flexible, so defensive positions and hitting orders are shuffled based on matchups throughout the year.

Josh Lester mashes for Norfolk

First baseman Josh Lester, who the Orioles signed on a minor league deal in December, has gotten off to a pretty good start this year. He didn’t make the 26-man tally, but he hit well in the spring, hitting .291/.339/.455 with one homer and 12 RBIs in 23 Grapefruit League games.

He made it even better for Triple-A Norfolk, hitting a homer in the Tides opener on Friday and hitting three homers against Durham in a 13-4 win on Saturday. It’s the third time a Tides player has hit three homers in a game in approximately 13 months. McKenna and Kyle Stowers each did it for Norfolk in May.

It was odd that the Orioles decided not to keep any of the left-handers who hit first basemen with the majors who signed them this offseason. But they have plenty of options in Triple A if they need to call one.

Concession Food Celebration

After beating the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, some of the Orioles players rushed to TD Garden to watch the NHL’s Boston Bruins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 in overtime.

The group arrived about 10 minutes into the first hour, having completed their day’s work. Among those in attendance was catcher Adleyrutschman, who earlier in the day became the first MLB player on Opening Day to go 5-on-5 with at least four RBIs.

He said after the game that he might get a good dinner to celebrate. Well, unless your idea of ​​a gourmet meal is chicken fingers from a concession stand — and that might be it; not here to judge—rutschman wasn’t exactly gastronomically lavish after his big day on the plate.

(Photo by Cedric Mullins: Michael Dwyer/Associated Press)


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