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Gunnar Henderson chooses not to hit for the cycle in Orioles 12-1 win over Oakland

The superstar rookie goes 4-5 with a HR, 3B and two 2Bs as he chooses to take an extra base in the 8th instead of completing the cycle.

Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

During the first two games this weekend in Oakland, the A’s kept things competitive. Sure, the Orioles won both games by five runs, but at least the A’s were somewhat competitive. You couldn’t say the same thing Sunday, as the Orioles dominated the Athletics to earn a sweep with a 12-1 win.

At times it felt like the Orioles bats were playing Home Run Derby in the Oakland Coliseum. Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle led off the game with singles that measured at 106 and 104 mph off the bat. Then, after Austin Hays walked to load the bases with one out, Ramón Urías almost gave the A’s a break to get them out of the inning. Urías grounded a ball sharply to third base for a fielder’s choice, but Oakland couldn’t complete the double play as the throw to first pulled Seth Brown off the bag, allowing Rutschman to come around to score the game’s first run.

Then the home runs started to pile up for the Orioles’ offense. After a 110-mph line out from Jordan Westburg and a strikeout from Ryan McKenna, Jorge Mateo rocketed a ball off the base of the wall in left-center field. A misplay from the A’s CF was all the encouragement Mateo needed and he turned on the jets to earn the first inside-the-park HR of his career.

The fireworks had only just started with the O’s up 2-0 after two innings. Mountcastle led off the 3rd inning with another laser of a single to the left-center. Gunnar Henderson then got his first hit of the game when sliced a first-pitch fastball into the LF corner to give the O’s second and third with no outs. Austin Hays then wasted no time in doubling the Baltimore advantage. Hays shot a pitch back at Oakland starter JP Sears, the ball ricocheting off Sears’ leg and into LF to drive in Mounty and Gunnar.

The Orioles blew the game even wider open in the 4th inning, as they almost hit for the cycle as a team in the inning alone. Jordan Westburg led off the inning by smoking a line drive off the top of the LF wall for a double. After back to back ground outs from McKenna and Mateo, Adley walked to give the O’s runners at first and second with two outs. In a game full of hard hit balls, RMC then hit a ball harder than any other, launching a three-run HR to left field that left his bat at 112 mph, giving the O’s a 7-0 lead. Henderson almost went back-to-back with Mounty, hitting a ball off the top of the right wall that just stayed in the park, forcing Gunnar to settle for a triple.

It was at that point that cycle watch was officially on for Gunnar. The superstar rookie infielder checked off another leg in the 7th inning, launching a towering solo homer that clanged off the top of the right field foul pole.

Henderson then came up again in the 8th, needing only a single to complete the cycle. He quickly fell behind 0-2 and proceeded to foul three two-strike pitches, seemingly waiting for a pitch he could pounce on. He got that on the seventh pitch of the AB with a belt-high fastball that he pulled down the first base line. However, instead of pulling up at first to complete the cycle, he did the most Gunnar thing ever: he kept on hustling for his second double of the game. With four extra-base hits, Gunnar became the youngest player to collect 4+ extra base hits in a game since 22-year-old Miguel Cabrera did it in 2005.

Overall the game was a banner game for the Orioles offense. Sunday was the fifth time all season that the O’s put up 12+ runs in a game. Baltimore’s 17 hits are the second-most they’ve collected in a game this season—only trailing the 20 they had July 9th in New York. After all nine Orioles’ hitters collected a hit on Friday, they almost equalled that feat Sunday, with only Ryan McKenna failing to collect a hit. Six of the starters also had multiple hits.

Kyle Bradish was even better than his usual dominant self, but the bats were so explosive that his performance became somewhat of a secondary storyline in the O’s thoroughly impressive win. Bradish started off the game striking out the side in the bottom of the first, including two Ks on a pair of great sliders. The first three innings of the game were perhaps Bradish’s best three-inning stretch all season, as he collected seven Ks over three perfect frames.

From the third on, Bradish entered more of a cruise control. He allowed his first hit on a Zack Gelof single in the 4th, but responded with his 8th strikeout and groundout to end the inning. The A’s got another two base runners to lead off the 5th, but it didn’t rattle Bradish. He induced a double play and another groundout to easily escape the jam.

After inducing three flyouts in the 6th, Bradish closed his line a six scoreless innings, two hits allowed and eight Ks. It was Bradish’s eighth quality start in his last 10 outings, and the six scoreless innings brought his ERA down to 3.03 on the season. That mark is good enough to put Bradish in a virtual tie with Gerrit Cole for the AL ERA lead.


The win puts the Orioles 30 games above .500 for the first time since the last day of the 2014 season. With the Rays off on Sunday, it also restores Baltimore’s lead atop the AL East to three games. While perhaps a sweep is nothing to celebrate against baseball’s worst team, this win still felt like a statement to the rest of the American League. People may want to try and find reasons as to why the Orioles aren’t the team to beat in the AL. This win—and this series—in Oakland certainly didn’t give them any.


Who was the Most Birdland Player for Sunday, August 20th?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Gunnar Henderson
    (1031 votes)
  • 13%
    (or maybe) Kyle Bradish
    (161 votes)
1192 votes total Vote Now