Orioles turn Keegan Akin’s potential 7-inning no-hitter into 11-2 loss to Blue Jays after late meltdown
BALTIMORE — With only seven innings scheduled and six completed in breezy fashion with no hits allowed, Orioles rookie left-hander Keegan Akin was well on his way to a quick and memorable, albeit unofficial, no-hitter.
Just as quickly to begin the seventh, he lost his bid for that piece of history — and the game along with it.
With the Orioles leading 1-0 thanks to Cedric Mullins’ 29th home run of the season in the third inning, Akin allowed a single to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on his first pitch of the seventh and a go-ahead home run to Bo Bichette four pitches later.
That reversal of fortunes set off another jaw-dropping meltdown for the Orioles, who went from needing just three outs for a no-hitter to losing 11-2 and being swept in Saturday’s doubleheader by the Toronto Blue Jays before an announced 10,219 at Camden Yards.
“Pretty disappointing way to end the ballgame” Akin said. “You don’t want to lose a ballgame like that at the end, and we kind of let that get away from us.”
In each game of the doubleheader, the Orioles (46-96) lost a lead in Toronto’s half of the final inning — 11-10 in the first game after entering the seventh with a 10-7 lead. The second game featured far less offense, at least until the end. Akin was mostly responsible for that.
He ran the count full to George Springer to lead off the game then retired the next 15 Blue Jays he faced until Randal Grichuk walked to begin the sixth.
Breyvic Valera — acquired by the Orioles from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the Manny Machado trade in 2018 — laid a bunt down to advance the tying run into scoring position and nearly ended Akin’s no-hitter as a result; he was ruled safe at first after Akin’s lob to Jorge Mateo pulled him briefly off the bag. Mateo, however, got back to the base a full step before Valera, and replay review confirmed as much.
After two lazy fly balls to the infield, Akin carried his no-hit bid into the seventh. But Guerrero’s single through the right side of the infield meant he went from trying to preserve his no-hitter to trying to preserve a win. That, too, evaded him. Bichette turned around a change-up for a two-run home run.
Akin allowed a single to Teoscar Hernández that came around to score when Alejandro Kirk homered off Tanner Scott, leaving Akin with three runs allowed on three hits with a pair of walks and three strikeouts in six innings. Akin said he lost his command late, left pitches over the plate, and paid for it.
“I thought Keegan Akin did a great job of changing speeds,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I thought his fastball had really good life throughout his outing, was really happy with how he threw. We only scored one run, that makes it even more difficult in that sort of situation. We had an opportunity to score a couple more there early and didn’t. That would have made it a little easier there on Keegan, but a 1-0 game is tough going into your last inning when you have a no-hitter, and plenty of pitches too with the pitch count and a very short bullpen. We were hoping he was able to get through, and he didn’t.”
Beginning with Guerrero’s single, Toronto had six straight hits in a seventh inning in which it sent 16 batters to the plate and scored 11 runs on 11 hits. The struggling left-hander Scott retired one batter and allowed six runs on six hits, with Marcus Semien hitting a home run off him as well.
Manny Barreda recorded the final two outs of the inning, but not before being charged with two runs and allowing a home run to Hernández that reached the Blue Jays’ bullpen.
“Bullpen guys that come in the game, their numbers matter too,” Hyde said. “They have a job to do. I don’t think Keegan giving up the lead there made it worse for the two guys that came in after. I just think that we got hit around.”
Not to be left out of the scoring in the seventh, the Orioles mounted a comeback attempt when Richie Martin doubled and scored when Mullins reached on a two-out error.
Would it have been a no-hitter?
According to ESPN, a 1991 MLB committee on historical accuracy defined a no-hitter as “a game in which a pitcher, or pitchers, gives up no hits while pitching at least nine innings. A pitcher may give up a run or runs so long as he pitches nine innings or more and does not give up a hit.”
Madison Bumgarner had a seven-inning no-hitter on April 25 in the second game of a seven-inning doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves, but was credited only with a complete game and a shutout because of that ruling.
Asked for his opinion a day later on what had been a roiling controversy around the game, Hyde believed Bumgarner should be credited with a no-hitter.
Hyde said then: “It’s a complete game. It’s a shutout, correct? Then it’s a no-hitter for me.”