CINCINNATI — It started with a wall jump and then all hell broke loose.
The ball screamed off the bat of Cincinnati Reds outfielder Nick Senzel as it sailed toward the left-field fence in the fifth inning Saturday night. With one jump, Orioles left fielder Austin Hays reached for the ball and missed the catch. But as the ball bounced off the wall, landed in his glove, it looked like it was a catch. That led Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer to believe Hays had caught it cleanly and he turned and ran back to first base.
And that’s just the beginning of the craziest moment of the Reds’ 8-2 victory over the Orioles.
Once Hays’ throw reached first baseman Trey Mancini, Senzel was beyond Farmer. Mancini jogged to get Farmer out, and the Orioles initially believed the collapse was an ending double play. But after a conference between the umpires, Baltimore returned to the field and Farmer remained on first.
The official ruling stated that because Senzel had passed Farmer – even though it was Farmer who had passed Senzel – the trail runner (Senzel) was out. Under Rule 9.05, a runner in position of force must advance a base for the hit to be credited at bat. That didn’t happen, which voided the hit for Senzel, leaving writers and fans confused and keeping the Orioles on the field needing one more out in the fifth.
In a fitting conclusion to one of the strangest moments of the Orioles’ season, Reds shortstop Jake Fraley stepped to the plate and promptly hit a two-run home run, escalating the craziness of the moment. That bomb from right-hander Beau Sulser put the game away and continued the Reds’ rally that began in the fourth inning against right-hander Dean Kremer.
There have been few games like these in recent years for Baltimore, with a score line far out and little chance of a comeback. The Orioles reeled off their 23rd come-from-behind victory Friday night in the series opener to move their record above .500 to the 100-game mark for the first time since 2016. Saturday’s loss does little to affect Baltimore’s form in recent years. but it shows the precarious nature of the initial rotation.
Kremer allowed six runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings, striking out three and walking one. He watched two long balls leave Great American Ball Park. He allowed three runs in the fourth, including a two-run shot by second baseman Jonathan India, before Joey Votto added his second straight homer to start the fifth.
An Orioles starter hasn’t gone six innings since right-hander Jordan Lyles did so on July 12 against the Chicago Cubs. And while the bullpen has been largely solid — giving up one earned run in the last 16 2/3 innings entering Saturday — the offense has struggled of late.
In addition to the two runs Baltimore (51-50) scored in the first inning – an RBI single by Anthony Santander and a balk by right-hander Tyler Mahle – 19 Orioles runs were retired after a one-out single by Tyler Nevin in the second inning before an infield single by rookie Adley Rutschman started the ninth.
The unorthodox play — and the homer to cover it — in the fifth was incredibly painful for Baltimore, but so was the lack of hitting and the poor play.