The Orioles have been facing a curse.
Their new City Connect uniforms — the sleek black look with the pop of color on the cuff — have resulted in downright dreadful results for them. They’d produced only one win in their Friday night home fits, losing the other four games by a combined 36 runs.
But on this particular Friday, after an hourlong rain delay, a rainbow appeared over right field, perhaps a sign that their luck might be turning soon.
The Orioles may not have found a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow, but they collected something more valuable: a win in their City Connect uniforms in the first game after the All-Star break. Baltimore beat the Marlins 5-2 for its sixth straight win.
“The break was great, but everyone was itching to get back,” winning pitcher Dean Kremer said. “We have another half, hoping to produce the same way we did the first half.”
The Orioles (55-35) sit just 1.5 games behind the Rays (58-35) in the AL East. Tampa Bay did not play Friday night. Its game against the Royals was postponed.
To break the curse, the Orioles needed an all-around team performance. They got that, with Kremer giving up just one run in six innings, working himself out of a jam of his own creation in the third. He’s struck out 18 in his last two outings, giving up just two runs in 13 innings.
But the real spark came from Cedric Mullins, who hasn’t performed up to par since returning from his monthlong stint on the injured list with a groin strain on June 24. He was hitting .263 with eight home runs prior to the injury but just .192 with no home runs since.
Manager Brandon Hyde, noticing the shift in his center fielder, moved Mullins from the leadoff spot to sixth in the lineup. The goal, Hyde said, was to allow Mullins time to get comfortable, letting him watch the starting pitcher for an inning or two before he had to step up.
“It’s not easy to miss a month and come back,” Hyde said. “He was finding his way.”
On Friday, Mullins looked like himself again. He hit a single in his first at-bat in the second inning, then stole second — his first steal since May 21 — and advanced to third on a throwing error. Adam Frazier drove him in with a single.
Then, in the fourth inning, Mullins hit the first pitch he saw to the right-center stands, his first home run since May 23. His effort gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead, an advantage they would not give up.
Frazier, not to be overlooked, also contributed to the flame. Frazier hit his career-high 11th homer in the fourth inning in just his 84th game of the season. His 12th came in the eighth, when he hit his second of the game for his first career multihomer game.
“For him to get some big homers for us this year, it’s been huge for us,” Hyde said. “Him and Cedric both tonight had outstanding games.”