The Orioles were already heading to another disappointing series opener on Monday when they suffered a more serious stomach-drop moment.

Centerfielder Cedric Mullins had to leave the 5-0 loss to the Cleveland Guardians (24-29) in the bottom of the eighth inning after pulling up gingerly while running out a ground ball. The normally speedy Mullins slowed up on the basepath, then was bent over for a minute before limping off the field.

Manager Brandon Hyde said Mullins had a right abductor or groin strain — testing was ongoing immediately following the game.

“It’s the last thing you want to see,” Hyde said.

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Mullins was replaced in the ninth inning by Terrin Vavra, but if he misses additional time, it could be a serious headache for the Orioles (34-20).

The 28-year-old former All-Star has been hitting .263 in the leadoff spot with a .353 on-base percentage. On Monday, he added two walks in his four plate appearances, the only two walks the team managed against Cleveland. Throughout the Orioles’ resurgence the last season and a half, Mullins has been one of the most consistent performers in the batter’s box and in the field.

The Orioles have options in the short term if Mullins misses time. Ryan McKenna, who started Monday in left field, has played center field in seven games, and Vavra has been up as a utility fielder who has largely been in right field.

But the pipeline has been hurt by injuries: Top outfield prospect Colton Cowser has been on the IL for the last week with a quad injury, and Kyle Stowers (who was up in the majors earlier this season) is also out with shoulder inflammation. The Orioles have one spot available on their 40-man roster — an immediate option could be Norfolk Tides outfielder Daz Cameron, an offseason minor league acquisition.

Between the loss and the injury however, there was a somber mood in the Orioles clubhouse on Monday afternoon.

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“Cedric is one of the biggest pieces of this team, and one of the biggest drivers of us winning this year,” McKenna said. “It’s gonna be a loss for our team.”

Monday’s defeat reinforced how the Orioles have struggled to produce offense in their recent homestand. After failing to add more than three runs in a 1-2 series against the Rangers, Baltimore bats were frustratingly quiet against the Guardians: Aside from a 3-for-4 line from Anthony Santander, the team managed only two other hits.

Starter Tyler Wells had seven strikeouts and allowed just one run on four hits in six innings. But Cleveland hurler Logan Allen fanned 10 batters. The Orioles wound up stranding seven runners on base.

Wells earned the loss by virtue of giving up one run on a sac fly in the fifth, but the dam broke in the seventh inning when Cionel Perez surrendered four straight hits. Eventually, the Guardians racked up four runs in the frame.

The Orioles continue the series Tuesday with starter Kyle Gibson scheduled to take the mound. Hyde said the team will use pitcher Austin Voth as either the Wednesday starter or as a bulk reliever to accommodate for sending down Grayson Rodriguez over the weekend.

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kyle.goon@thebaltimorebanner.com

Andy Kostka contributed to this report.