When Brandon Hyde whipped the hat off his head, it was almost as if he needed to let the steam out more easily. The Orioles manager had been standing on the top step of the dugout, waiting for a verdict on a play at the plate.
And after a conference between umpires resulted in the decision to overturn the original call, Hyde came out to appeal the play at the plate — a key turning point in an eventual 8-1 series-finale loss in which the Pittsburgh Pirates avoided a sweep and ended Baltimore’s winning streak at five games. Managers aren’t allowed to argue replay rulings and Hyde was quickly ejected.
It all began with two outs in the seventh inning, with Pirates outfielder Greg Allen on second base and infielder Kevin Newman batting. A sharply hit ground ball into the hole between third base and shortstop was knocked down by shortstop Jorge Mateo’s dive into the outfield grass, and when the ball skittered a few feet away, Allen rounded third and headed toward the plate.
Mateo’s throw home bounced twice before reaching catcher Robinson Chirinos, who had set up in front of the plate. The ball stuck in his glove, the tag was applied and Allen ran into him. The immediate reaction from Allen was to counter that Chirinos was blocking his path to the plate rather than allowing a lane for Allen.
While Allen was initially ruled out by home plate umpire Carlos Torres, the lengthy deliberation between umpires led to the reversal and Hyde’s ejection shortly thereafter. And once the Orioles retook the field, the Pirates quickly added on from there, scoring three more runs — including a two-run shot from third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes off right-hander Beau Sulser, who entered shortly after the ejection.
In a statement, MLB said the replay official “definitively determined that the catcher was in violation of the Home Plate Collision Rule. The catcher’s initial setup completely in foul territory was illegal and he maintained that position without possession of the ball.”
The Orioles (56-52) fell apart after the ruling and ejection. Instead of getting out of the seventh inning unscathed, four runs crossed. Instead of a three-run deficit with nine outs remaining, the difference ballooned to seven — far out of reach for a team that has a penchant for late-game drama. Baltimore has 24 comeback wins this season, and 10 of them have come when trailing after the sixth inning.
Bench coach Fredi González became the Orioles’ acting manager with Hyde’s ejection. It marked Hyde’s third ejection of the season, the first coming April 21 in Oakland and the second on July 2 in Minnesota. It’s the Orioles manager’s ninth career ejection.
The four runs Pittsburgh scored in the seventh added to the four they plated off right-hander Spenser Watkins.
Before an infield single to third in the fourth inning, which Statcast credited with having a .060 expected batting average, Watkins had retired 13 straight Pirates on 48 pitches. Then came three more softly hit singles as part of a three-run fifth inning.
The four runs Watkins allowed in 5 1/3 innings marks the second most in any start this season. He struck out five and allowed four hits and one walk in what had been one of his best performances since returning from the injured list June 25 until an infield single opened a trickle he couldn’t stop.
There was little offensive support around either Watkins or the bullpen, with shortstop Jorge Mateo’s solo homer in the third inning representing one of four Orioles hits.
Entering Sunday, the Orioles’ .706 OPS in the seventh through ninth innings was the highest of any third of the game. They’ve made a habit of comebacks. But with a decisive ruling and a subsequent ejection, those comeback hopes vanished.
Around the horn
>> Outfielder Austin Hays continued his recovery Sunday by hitting in the cage and throwing on the field. He has missed four straight games and five of the last six with left oblique tightness.
>> Outfielder Anthony Santander has practiced first base before games for much of the season, and with the Orioles having traded Trey Mancini to the Houston Astros, Hyde said Santander might see some time at first at some point this season.
>> Rougned Odor received his first start of the season at third base. While he said in spring training playing third base for the New York Yankees last season was “uncomfortable,” Hyde said Odor was open to the idea of playing third if it helped the team. The move allowed rookie Terrin Vavra to play second base while keeping both left-handed bats in the order.
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