The crack of the bat was all wrong. It wasn’t that sweet, crisp sound when a hitter squares up a baseball; it was a sharp, splintering crack of wood on dirt, with the barrel spinning away and the handle still in Cedric Mullins’ hand.

The Orioles center fielder spiked his bat into the dirt after he struck out to end the seventh inning, having stranded two runners in scoring position. With a one-run lead at that point, Baltimore could have used an insurance run; instead, Mullins continued what has been a trying stretch for him at the plate, and the force with which he smacked the dirt showed it.

“It’s clearly been a struggle and I’m frustrated,” said Mullins, who’s hitting .181 this year but still is playing lockdown center field. “Working every day to get out of it.”

The frustration would have only mounted one inning later, when the Tampa Bay Rays flipped the game in their favor. Right-hander Dillon Tate stayed in for a second inning but faltered in the eighth, conceding two singles and a two-run double to Jose Siri that lifted the Rays to a comeback 4-3 win against the Orioles.

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There were other chances to come through at the plate, beyond Mullins’ strikeout. In the bottom of the eighth, Baltimore had a prime scoring opportunity: bases loaded with one out. But Ryan Mountcastle grounded into an inning-ending double play that wiped away another clear opportunity.

“We just had so many opportunities to score,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We were going to be short in the ‘pen today, and hopefully we were going to be able to add on. We got 15 hits, just didn’t get the hits with runners in scoring position today, and those things happen.”

With the late runs off Tate and five runners left on base in the seventh and eighth innings, the Orioles missed out on a sweep of their division opponent. They also begin a long stretch of games in June with some clear questions around their roster.

Left-hander Cole Irvin did a good job of answering part of one of those questions. After season-ending injuries were announced this week for left-hander John Means and right-hander Tyler Wells, a once-deep rotation looks spottier.

Irvin, however, has excelled this season despite jumping between the rotation and bullpen. Irvin didn’t miss many bats Sunday — he walked one and struck out one — and allowed eight hits, but the southpaw allowed just two runs.

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The efficient outing, which lasted into the seventh inning, brought his season ERA to 2.84. As a starter, it’s even lower: 2.58. Irvin may not have been a key part of the rotation in the winter, but he has grown into the role as injuries mount around him.

“It comes down to executing pitches at the end of the day, throwing the ball where it needs to be,” Irvin said. “It just felt like in the right spots, I’ve been doing the right things. I need to clean up some areas I’m not necessarily happy with, in terms of getting ahead of hitters a little bit more, finishing at-bats a little bit more. So there’s definitely some room for improvement.”

The second question is harder to answer, even with offensive stars such as Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman helping to provide ample run support most games. The bullpen is rigid — that is, few pitchers have options available, and there aren’t many major-league-ready relievers in Triple-A waiting in the wings.

Tate is one of the few with flexibility, and he has already been optioned to the minors once this year. June will be a test of how this bullpen stacks up — the likes of Yennier Cano and Danny Coulombe can’t be used every game — and may force the Orioles into exposing relievers to waivers as they rotate healthy arms.

Hyde said Cano and right-hander Jacob Webb weren’t available to pitch Sunday, which led to Tate’s extended action.

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“I don’t think it [the fastball] was in the best spot, to be honest with you,” Tate said of the pitch Siri hit for a double in the eighth. “I just wasn’t good at my job today.”

There could be injury concerns, as well. Jorge Mateo, who has taken over the everyday second base role through his strong defense and resurgent form at the plate, suffered an apparent head injury during the fourth inning. As Mateo crouched over in the on-deck circle, Cedric Mullins lifted his bat as part of his warmup. As Mullins lowered the bat once more, it inadvertently collided with the back of Mateo’s helmet.

Mateo exited the game and Ramón Urías pinch hit for him. Hyde said Mateo was in concussion protocol and the team would know more Monday.

Until late in the game, it appeared as though Henderson’s heroics could be enough to lift Baltimore to a victory. He reached base five times for the second time this year, and his first-inning at-bat continued his power surge.

Henderson launched his 19th homer to Eutaw Street (following in Anthony Santander’s footsteps Saturday). He caught a slider from right-hander Zack Littell that swirled in under Henderson’s hands, yet the shortstop’s quick turn of the hips allowed him to throttle the pitch 420 feet down the right field line.

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Henderson checked in with two more singles later in the game, notching his fourth three-hit game this season. He also reached on two walks as part of his all-around offensive day against the Rays.

In the third inning, when Henderson led off with a single, he soon stole his eighth base (he is yet to be caught) and promptly scored on Anthony Santander’s two-out base knock. And Henderson’s fourth-inning walk brought Rutschman to the plate, and Rutschman drove in a third run.

But three runs weren’t enough Sunday. Tate gave up a pair, and Baltimore fumbled away two key chances. The Orioles started bright with Henderson’s homer, but they ended with 13 runners left on base.

“Offense was there,” Irvin said, “just, these days are going to happen.”