Thursday July 6th, 2023 will forever be remembered as the day GUNNAR HENDERSON took over Yankee Stadium. The Orioles rookie shortstop put together a performance for the history books in leading the Orioles offense to their best performance of the season—scoring a 14-1 win in the Bronx.
GUNNAR gave all of Birdland a sign of things to come in the very first at-bat of the game. After working the count full against Yankees starter Luis Severino, GUNNAR launched a fastball on the outer half of the plate around the left field foul pole for lead-off home run. It was the best start the Orioles could hope for, but it was only just the beginning.
After collecting a single in a scoreless 2nd inning, Henderson was part of an offensive masterpiece in the top of the 3rd. Anthony Santander started off the inning with a 111 mph rocket off the right field walk for a single. Ryan O’Hearn and Cedric Mullins then collected back-to-back doubles to grow the Orioles lead from 1-0 to 3-0. After Colton Cowser advanced Mullins to third with a groundout, Jordan Westburg shot a ball past a drawn-in infield to score Mullins and collect the inning’s third double.
GUNNAR later collected his second RBI with a hard-hit single up the middle to score his buddy Westburg. Adley Rutschman then collected an RBI on a single off the shortstop’s glove to score Adam Frazier, and two batters later O’Hearn capped off the scoring with a two-run, bases loaded single. All in all, the Orioles sent 12 batters to the plate, collected eight hits and scored seven runs in the 3rd inning alone.
The scoring didn’t stop there, though. Cowser and Westburg led off the 4th inning with two walks on eight straight balls. After a fly ball from Frazier moved Cowser to third, Ramón Urías picked up his first hit, sending a single to RF to bring home Cowser and give the O’s a 9-0 lead.
GUNNAR then produced perhaps the defining moment of his big league career to date. On an 0-2 fastball from Albert Abreu, GUNNAR launched a ball so deep into right-center field that the right fielder didn’t even think to take a step. The three-run home run was so majestic that it was reminiscent of some of the home runs Josh Hamilton hit in his record-setting Home Run Derby performance at OId Yankee Stadium. No amount of times is the right amount of times to re-watch the homer, so let’s all watch it again:
TWO HOME RUNS, FOUR HITS, AND IT'S ONLY THE 4TH INNING!!! pic.twitter.com/xqZCoP8KzU— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) July 7, 2023
After his second home run of the night, GUNNAR was 4-4 with five RBIs. He was only the fourth rookie in Orioles history to collect four hits and two home runs in the same game. GUNNAR was also on the second Orioles rookie ever to have four hits and five RBIs in the same game. While GUNNAR won’t be taking this show to Seattle next week, he’s clearly in All-Star form right now.
The rest of the lineup also featured plenty of standout performances. O’Hearn finished the night 3-4 with four RBIs. Westburg collected a pair of hits, a walk, and RBI and scored two runs. Cowser was the only Oriole not to collect a hit (including substitutes Jorge Mateo and James McCann) but he still reached base three times on two walks and a hit by pitch.
Though GUNNAR and the offensive outburst steals the headlines, Kyle Bradish put together another outstanding start for the Orioles. The second-year right hander continued his recent stretch of domination by putting up six scoreless innings against a Yankees lineup that looked consistently overmatched. After getting a lineout and groundout to begin the 1st inning, Bradish gave up a single to first baseman Anthony Rizzo on a curveball Rizzo flipped into LF. The Orioles starter then K’d Yankees center fielder Harrison Bader on a great curveball to end the inning, starting a stretch of nine straight batters retired.
Bradish frustrated Yankee hitters all night by impressively mixing his fastball, slider and curveball to great effect. He collected three K’s on his curveball and the Yankees only put the curve in play twice. Bradish used the slider to pick up early strikes and all the New York hitters could do against the slider was consistently pound it into the dirt. Often this season, Bradish’s fastball has been more of a liability than a weapon, but that was not the case Thursday. Bradish threw 27 fastballs and New York didn’t manage to put any of them in play.
The offensive explosion was also a huge relief for Bradish, as run support has been a hard thing for him to come by. Coming into Thursday, the Orioles failed to score while Bradish was still in the game in seven of his 15 starts, including their 1-0 loss to the Twins in his last start. Instead of continuing that worrying trend, the O’s broke out for their most runs and hits in any game this season—and 13 of those runs game with Bradish the pitcher of record. The Orioles’ 20 hits also tied a franchise record.
While they couldn’t complete the shutout—giving up a run in the 9th inning—the O’s still sent about as loud a message as possible heading into their last series before the All-Star break. With Cowser and Westburg in the lineup—and once Austin Hays returns from hip injury—this is the best group of position players the O’s have had all season. That should be a scary thought for AL opponents heading into the second half of the season. If this group can come close to repeating these kind of nights going forward, we’re in for one hell of a second half of the season.
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