GUNNAR HENDERSON! No Orioles fan could have scripted a better result for a dormant Orioles offense than that the very arrival of their new top prospect Henderson would help get them to wake up. That’s exactly what happened on Wednesday, with Henderson hitting a home run for his first ever MLB hit and adding another hit later in the game on the way to a 4-0 O’s win over the Guardians. Check out Andrea’s recap of the game for the lovely totals.
One game is one game, and you should never overreact to one game. With that in mind, it was nice to see the immediate impact. Henderson hit the ball hard in three of his four at-bats, and the one ball that wasn’t hard hit was kind of a fluke out - an opposite field foul pop fly that Guardians left fielder Steven Kwan, a Rookie of the Year contender, hauled in with an amazing leaping catch.
Henderson and the Orioles will have no easy task in trying to take the series in Cleveland with tonight’s 6:10 finale. Recent Cy Young winner Shane Bieber is on the mound for the Guardians, and though he’s probably not in the conversation to win another Cy, he’s doing great this season, with a 3.02 ERA in 24 starts. The two-time All-Star has a 4.78 K/BB ratio for the season and a 1.086 WHIP.
Picking up one more win against a division-leading Guardians team is going to be important for the Orioles because their wild card competition is playing a bunch of cupcakes right now. The three teams currently holding the AL wild card spots are playing the Cubs, Marlins, and Tigers (Toronto, Tampa Bay, and Seattle, respectively).
The Orioles did get help from one of those bad teams last night as the Jays lost to the Cubs. That brings the O’s back to within two games of the third wild card spot, a spot that would, at the moment, play a best-of-three in Cleveland against these Guardians.
They also got help from the Red Sox, who held on to beat the Twins. That’s important because the Twins had pulled into a tie with the O’s, and the Twins hold the head-to-head tiebreaker due to Jorge López’s early July meltdowns. (López, of course, is now a Twin.) So the Orioles are back to being a game ahead of the Twins, the first challenger in line in the wild card race.
Alright, let’s just go back to some awesome Henderson stuff. If you missed that dinger because you were driving home from work or at the grocery store or something, check it out, because it’s amazing:
FIRST HIT ✅— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) August 31, 2022
FIRST HOME RUN ✅ pic.twitter.com/Y6G6ycDiQ1
This is one of those videos where you can have a bunch of favorite parts. Mine right now is Jim Palmer’s practically giddy laughter as soon as he realizes how hard Henderson has hit the ball.
At the end of the game, Adley Rutschman and Félix Bautista arrived at this delightfully dorky part of the victory celebration:
Just look at them. That’s two guys on the Orioles who are having that much fun because they’re on a 68-61 team that’s two games back of a wild card spot when every pundit (and many fans, let’s be fair) expected 95+ losses from this team once again. With 68 wins, the Orioles have already equaled the win total of the 2008 squad. One more win to pull even with 2007 and 2011. It would be nice if they can get that tonight.
Around the blogO’sphere
Gunnar hits 1st HR so hard he lost his helmet (Orioles.com)
This moment is captured in the photograph above. Henderson also lost his helmet after picking up his second base hit of the night. After the game, MASN’s Kevin Brown asked if he needed a new helmet. Henderson said he tried on a bunch and they were all too small. He guessed it was because of his hair.
Henderson makes stated goal a reality (School of Roch)
We learned from pregame coverage yesterday that earlier this year, Gunnar texted his girlfriend and told her that he was going to make it to MLB this year. It’s fun for all of us that he was right. Of making it to the show, he said, “The road’s just starting, so the work keeps on going.”
Adding Gunnar Henderson, Jesús Aguilar shows Orioles are serious about playoff push (The Athletic)
One of the two names in this headline supports its thesis.
Orioles sign Jesús Aguilar to minor-league contract (MLBTR)
Related to the above, the Orioles brought in the 32-year-old righty Aguilar, who was designated for assignment by the Marlins and released. Why do the Orioles want him? I have no answer. Aguilar is able to arrive because rosters expand from 26 to 28 today. The O’s have been expected to add DL Hall into the bullpen mix. The other spot seems to be going to Aguilar. They’ll have to clear a place on the 40-man roster to do this. I would guess either Jonathan Araúz or Richie Martin is headed to the waiver wire.
A season where it’s “best I’ve ever thrown” resumes Thursday for Grayson Rodriguez (Steve Melewski)
Not to be lost in all the Henderson excitement is that Rodriguez’s rehab assignment starts today for Aberdeen. Could he possibly pitch his way into being a late September option for the Orioles?
Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries
Today in 2007, the Orioles got no-hit by Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox in his second major league game. My memory of that occurrence is this: I was at my friend’s wedding, at which another friend said, “Mark, if you’re not passed out in the grass by the end of the night, I’m going to be disappointed,” and kept handing me screwdrivers. Later, people started making fun of me for caring about the Orioles - they were in their 10th year of being bad at that point - and eventually news reached our inebriated states of this no-hitter. I had no reply. I did not pass out in the grass or anywhere else.
Anyway, let’s hope the Orioles mark this anniversary by having a huge offensive night rather than stinking like that 2007 team did. It wasn’t a terrible lineup that night! Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Miguel Tejada, and Kevin Millar were all over .800 OPS for the season. Ten days after the 30-3 loss, the team just had another crummy game. It was that kind of decade.
One lone former Oriole was born on this day: Dean Stone, who pitched 17 games in relief for the 1963 Orioles, the final season of his eight-year MLB career. He passed away in 2018 at age 87.
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: composer Johann Pachelbel (1653), baseball Hall of Famer Jim O’Rourke (1850), Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875), country artist Conway Twitty (1933), actress Lily Tomlin (1939), singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan (1957), TV host Padma Lakshmi (1970), and actress Zendaya (1996).
On this day in history...
In 1939, Nazi Germany launched an invasion of Poland, marking the beginning of World War II.
In 1952, Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea was first published.
In 1974, the SR-71 Blackbird jet set a record for flight time between New York and London, measured at one hour, 54 minutes, and 56.4 seconds. That’s a total speed of 1,435 miles per hour. This record still stands.
In 1985, the remains of the sunken RMS Titanic were located by a joint American-French expedition.
And that’s the way it is in Birdland on September 1. Have a safe Thursday. Go O’s!