The season’s first month went by with the Baltimore Orioles still waiting to see the Dean Kremer that dazzled in his first three major league starts last summer. When he finally arrived for Monday night’s series opener with the Seattle Mariners, it seemed they wouldn’t be able to capitalize on it.

Instead, Cedric Mullins continued his season-opening tear by hitting a go-ahead, two-run home run in the eighth inning, one that narrowly escaped right fielder Mitch Haniger’s grasp as the visiting Orioles finally broke through against a series of Seattle relievers in a 5-3 victory. After Mullins abandoned switch-hitting this offseason to strictly bat from the left side, his home run off left-hander Anthony Misiewicz tied him for the team lead in that category, one of many in which he paces Baltimore.

Austin Hays followed with a double off Misiewicz, who did not allow a run in his first 12 appearances, and came around to score, and Freddy Galvis added a two-run homer to complete the five-run frame.

While Kremer worked six innings for the first time since his major league debut, his lone blemish, a wall-scraping home run from Tom Murphy in the fifth inning, looked as if it would be decisive as the Mariners’ collective of relievers shut down the lineup. It was one of only two hits Kremer allowed in what was by far his best start of 2021.

He needed 22 pitches in the first inning, then retired nine straight and 11 of 12 before Murphy won an eight-pitch battle by sending Kremer’s 71st pitch just over the right field fence. But the 25-year-old rookie responded by retiring his final five batters, completing five innings for the first time in five starts and lowering his ERA from 8.40 to 6.43.

By the time Kremer left the game, Seattle (16-14) had already used four pitchers. Erik Swanson opened with two perfect innings, and although the Orioles (14-15) loaded the bases with two outs against Domingo Tapia in the second, he struck out Trey Mancini to keep them off the board. Maikel Franco started the third with a double off Will Vest, but the next three batters didn’t hit the ball out of the infield as Franco ended the inning at third base.

After Baltimore’s big inning, Haninger’s two-run home run off Shawn Armstrong cut Baltimore’s lead in half, but Tanner Scott and César Valdez combined for the final five outs without issue.

— Baltimore Sun