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Kyle Tucker stuns O’s with go-ahead grand slam off All-Star closer Felix Bautista

Bautista had allowed just five earned runs all year entering Tuesday night. He allowed four on one swing as Houston rallied for a pivotal win.

Houston Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker celebrates with pinch hitter John Singleton and second baseman Jose Altuve at home pate after hitting a grand slam in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Entering play on Tuesday night, Baltimore Orioles All-Star closer Felix Bautista had allowed just five earned runs all season, with a 0.85 ERA and a frankly ridiculous 102 strikeouts in just 52.2 innings. So, when the O’s took a 6-3 lead into the ninth inning in the opener of their potential postseason preview against the Houston Astros — thanks in part to Ryan Mountcastle’s mammoth 472-foot homer — things felt all but sewn up.

Kyle Tucker, however, had other ideas. A walk and two base hits brought Tucker up to the plate as the potential go-ahead run with one out, and wouldn’t you know it, we had lift-off:

Ryan Pressly would work a perfect bottom of the ninth to give Houston a dramatic 7-6 win.

The Camden Yards crowd was stunned, and it’s hard to blame them. According to ESPN, Tucker is the first player this season to hit a grand slam with his team trailing by three runs in the ninth inning or later. But it’s even more improbable when you consider just how automatic Bautista has been this season: The O’s had won 97 consecutive games when taking at least a three-run lead into the ninth inning entering Tuesday night.

Not only was the loss a huge missed opportunity to cement their status as the presumptive AL favorite, but it was also the capper on what’s been a rough 24 hours or so for Baltimore as an organization. The team has come under fire this week for ownership’s decision to suspend play-by-play announcer Kevin Brown, reportedly because of an innocuous statistic he cited about the team’s performance in recent years ahead of a game late last month. The public backlash has been swift and loud, culminating in the team’s own fans chanting in support of Brown at Camden Yards:

The O’s were hoping to put the focus back on their play, but it just wasn’t to be on Tuesday. The Tampa Bay Rays’ win over the St. Louis Cardinals cut Baltimore’s lead to two games in the AL East. The Astros, meanwhile, improved to 65-49, good enough for the AL’s second Wild Card spot.