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This, that and the other

Cedric Mullins spoke in spring training about trying to focus on midfield, an approach that makes him a much bigger threat at home plate.

He’s still trying, and the improvements are strong.

The exhibition numbers illustrate his struggles: five hits in 30 at bats with 11 strikeouts.

Mullins started last night’s game with just three hits in 16 at bats, and his nine strikeouts led the American League. But he lined up a two-run single into center field in the Orioles’ home opener, with a speed-out of 109 mph, which provided all the scoring, and also sent a 99 mph live drive to the mound that reliever Aaron Ashby trapped. the exit.

After flying to left field in his first at bat last night, Mullins threw a 413-foot Eric Lauer curveball to right center field for his first career grand slam. The output bike was 101.8 mph.

Mullins is the first center back for the Orioles to win a Grand Slam since Adam Jones on July 28, 2008 in New York, and the first at home since Brady Anderson on August 26, 1997 against the Royals.

“Unbelievable for him to step in like that,” starter Spenser Watkins said. “He’s our guy, so for him it’s great, and I have to do a better job of putting a zero after that.”

Mullins started the ninth with a brace to the center right against Brewers closest Josh Hader, who tried to pass him at 97.3 mph. This one was clocked at 97.3 mph.

“I think he’s still looking for a bit, but I think he’s shown some positive signs (Monday),” manager Brandon Hyde said before the game. “Him staying in the middle twice on a line. In Tampa, he was a bit out. Just a little too fast, and (Monday) I thought his approach was better.

“He even had a foul ball at third base line which to me was like his swing from last year, where he was really staying on the baseball, really practical, not so quick to get to the side of the pull, and that resulted in two line ups in the middle (Monday).

Mullins threw another ball last night in the seventh, a searing 101.5mph liner that Willy Adames turned into a takedown with a bounding catch.

The environment gives and takes.

There is no doubt that Jorge López is the closest to the Orioles. Actions speak louder than words.

López earned the save in Monday’s home opener, the second of his career and first since 2019 with the Royals. It started to heat up last night in the eighth after Austin Hays hit a first single with the Orioles trailing by one run.

Joey Krehbiel was already in place, but López joined him in case the Orioles took the lead. Otherwise, Krehbiel was going to pitch.

The Orioles charged with no outs, hit three hits to keep the Brewers ahead 5-4, and Krehbiel came through the bullpen door.

Krehbiel blocked a runner after third baseman Ramón Urías made a fielding error, putting out Christian Yelich and giving him three scoreless innings this season.

The right-hander would have actually gotten a save opportunity Friday at Tropicana Field had the Orioles rallied in the top of the ninth. López had previously entered the game as part of a parade of relievers. Krehbiel was warming up.

Brett Cumberland was not in the Triple-A Norfolk roster last night after appearing in four games. Jacob Nottingham was behind the plate and Richie Martin started as the designated hitter.

Cumberland is 2 for 14, and the .250 on-base percentage is a significant drop from his career .370. He walked twice, but here’s the kicker: no slapshots.

Oh, they are coming. Just around the corner, there will be a flesh-grabbing fastball.

Cumberland was hit 28 times last season in 84 games. That seems like a lot until you consider he was hit 41 times in 2017 while playing for two Single-A affiliates in the Braves system.

It is as if he were drawing the target.

My curiosity led me to the Cumberland locker last month during spring training, and he explained to me how it happened.

“A lot of guys walk away. I don’t stray from the path. That’s all it is, really,” he said.

“My dad (Craig), when he was younger he used to train me to ride with it rather than push me aside, and I think when you ride with it you protect yourself a lot more. When you try to pull away, that’s when you expose your rib cage and other parts of your body. But when you ride it, it takes the meat out of your back most of the time, and it doesn’t hurt that badly.

Unless your head bothers you.

“I was also hit in the head,” he said. “That’s why we have helmets, you know?

It is therefore a proper technique and another very important element.

“I’m not afraid of being hit.

Cumberland can get more chances behind the plate with Adley Rutschman back in Sarasota recovering from a strained right triceps and increasing baseball activity. The former second-round draft pick had a .352 OBP last summer, but he beat .187 with a .330 hitting percentage.

“It was bad. Yeah, it was bad,” he said. to put on base. I just hit terribly. I’d like to hit better this year, absolutely.