When Gunnar Henderson lofted the seventh pitch of Thursday night’s game at Yankee Stadium out to left field, it provided a bit of early offense the Orioles had lacked of late. But there was much, much more to come.
Paced by three more hits and another home run by Henderson, the Orioles beat the New York Yankees, 14-1, with all but one of Baltimore’s runs coming in the first four innings. Henderson recorded a hit in each of those frames, becoming only the second major leaguer since 1984 with four hits and two home runs through four innings.
A week past his 22nd birthday, Henderson became the second youngest Oriole to achieve that feat in a whole game, only nine days older than Curt Blefary was in 1965. Since, only eight major leaguers younger than Henderson have posted such a stat line: Joe Morgan, Rubén Sierra, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Carlos Correa, Juan Soto and Rafael Devers.
Entering the season as baseball’s top prospect and a favorite to be the American League Rookie of the Year, Henderson got off to a slow start to the season. In his first 30 games, the infielder hit .174 with a .643 OPS. His performance Thursday lifted those marks to .246 and .804.
Henderson went hitless in his final three at-bats as the Orioles (51-35) also quieted. But after losing the first two games of the series and being shut out midway through the third contest, they scored 19 runs in an eight-inning span. That surpasses their total in their previous 69 offensive innings, a stretch that encompasses Baltimore’s six losses in seven games.
The Orioles scored 20 of the series’ final 22 runs to manage a split in their last visit this year to New York before heading to Minnesota for their final three games before the All-Star break. The 14 runs Thursday marked their most against the Yankees (48-40) since April 8, 2014.
Henderson’s leadoff home run, the first of his career, got it started. It was the game’s only score through two innings, though the Orioles threatened further in each frame to drive up Luis Severino’s pitch count; after a Henderson single, Adley Rutschman ended the second with a 12-pitch flyout. Five of the first six Baltimore batters reached in the third, with Ryan O’Hearn, Cedric Mullins and Jordan Westburg each doubling in a run. After an out, Henderson chased Severino with an RBI single, and Rutschman followed with a line drive Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe couldn’t corral. O’Hearn added a two-run single to round out the seven-run inning.
Walks by rookies Colton Cowser and Westburg opened the fourth, which featured five more scores. After Ramón Urías singled in Cowser, Henderson drove in him and Westburg with a deep home run to right. Only 11 major leaguers younger than Henderson have recorded four hits, two home runs and five RBIs in a game. Rutschman followed the blast with a walk, eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly by O’Hearn.
The Orioles’ bats at last relented from there, but right-hander Kyle Bradish did not. He allowed one hit through five innings and finished with three surrendered over six scoreless innings, closing his first half with a 3.32 ERA.
Baltimore scored one last run in the eighth as Mullins beat out a grounder with the bases loaded for an RBI fielder’s choice. Cowser was then hit by a pitch from Wandy Peralta, who had thrown inside to O’Hearn earlier in the inning. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was ejected for arguing after a warning was issued to both benches.
The Yankees avoided a shutout with an unearned run off Eduard Bazardo in the ninth.
Around the horn
- All-Star outfielder Austin Hays was out of the lineup for a fourth straight game after suffering a bruised left hip Sunday but said he’s improving each day. Asked whether he plans to play in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, Hays responded, “I’m planning on playing before the All-Star Game.”
- Outfielder Aaron Hicks was scratched from Baltimore’s lineup for undisclosed reasons. Colton Cowser slid from left to center field in his place, with Adam Frazier entering the lineup as the left fielder.
- The Orioles traded right-hander Chris Vallimont to the Cleveland Guardians for cash. The 26-year-old was designated for assignment Wednesday after pitching two-thirds of an inning Monday in his major league debut.
- Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, the organization’s top pitching prospect who has a 1.83 ERA and 37.8% strikeout rate since rejoining Triple-A Norfolk, was named the International League Pitcher of the Month for June. “Sounds like the command’s really improving, so we’re really excited about that and watching him closely,” Hyde said.
- No. 9 prospect Coby Mayo was the Eastern League Player of the Month. The 21-year-old third baseman hit .340/.467/.711 with eight home runs in June for Double-A Bowie and already has two in July. Overall, he’s hitting .315 with 17 home runs and a 1.054 OPS in Double-A.
- Henderson reached out to YES Network cameraman Pete Stendel after his errant throw in Wednesday’s game struck Stendel and left him with an orbital fracture. Stendel is resting at home. “We give him our best and hope he has a speedy recovery,” Hyde said.
This story will be updated.
Source: Berkshire mont