Kremer, Henderson lead O's to win in road trip wrap-up game (updated)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – As this game got into the middle innings today, it seemed Gunnar Henderson and Dean Kremer were battling for the O's top starring roles.

Henderson kept getting hits and driving in runs off lefty pitchers and Kremer kept getting whiffs and putting up zeros with his four-seamer and cutter.

It all added up to an Orioles 6-5 victory as they took a 6-0 lead and then held off the Angels. The Orioles win this series and complete a 4-2 road trip. They head home 16-8 and get ready to host the Athletics on Friday night.

The Orioles are now 3-1 in rubber match games and have won six of their eight series.

After Los Angeles cut a six-run deficit to 6-4 on Zach Neto's homer of Yennier Cano in the eighth and 6-5 in the ninth, closer Craig Kimbrel got the final outs as they held on to win.

Kimbrel pitched the ninth, allowing a run with the help of Jorge Mateo's throwing error, but picked up his seventh save and the 424th of his career to tie John Franco for sixth place all time.

The game ended amid some controversy with catcher James McCann throwing out Jo Adell trying to steal second. An out call was made and confirmed by a lengthy replay. At that point, the O's had their win.

Ehire Adrianza led off the ninth and reached third on a single and Mateo's throwing error. He scored on a groundout. With two outs, Kimbrel walked Adell, someone O's manager Brandon Hyde said is a plus-plus runner. He tried to steal second, McCann's throw was there and Henderson applied the tag. The crowd felt the out call would be overturned via a replay. But after a long look, New York upheld the call and the win was secured.

Major League Baseball released this statement on the final play after the game: "After viewing all relevant angles, the replay official could not definitively determine that the runner touched second prior to the fielder applying the tag. The call stands, the runner is out."

“Think it could have gone either way," said Hyde. "I was hoping for a (call) stands. Unbelievable throw by Mac there. Huge play. We had a 6-0 lead and unfortunately let them back into it and made it really tough on ourselves. Had to pitch Cano and Kimbrel there, but fortunately we held on."

Said Henderson: “I felt like I got a good tag on him. Was really close. Can’t really tell. We were fortunate that they called out on the field. But yeah, I couldn’t really see it, it was really close."

Kimbrel is 3-0 with seven saves, an ERA of 0.82 and 0.62 WHIP.

Kremer’s whiffs and strikeouts upped his pitch count and he was out of this game after 5 1/3 innings. He gave up three hits and two runs (one after he left) with one walk and 10 strikeouts.

He improved to 1-2 with a 4.61 ERA, throwing a season-high 101 pitches, 66 for strikes. The 10 strikeouts matched his career-best, set July 5, 2023 at the Yankees.

“Dean threw so well," said Hyde. "He just threw a lot of pitches, unfortunately. Probably a little tired there in the sixth around the 100-pitch mark and he gave up the homer there to (Mike) Trout. Then the base hit. But for the first five innings, he was absolutely outstanding.”

Kremer did not allow a hit today until Adell’s clean single to right with two outs in the Angels fifth inning. He retired the first seven batters he faced before a walk, fanning three of them, two on cutters and one on a two-seam sinker.

Kremer began the day with a career 2-0 record and 1.76 ERA in three career starts versus the Angels and threw well against them for most of this afternoon.

With a 6-0 lead, he lost his shutout bid in the sixth when Trout, who had been 0-for-7 against him in his career, blasted a homer with an exit velocity of 114.5 mph to left. It was 6-1 and after a single followed that blast, the O’s turned to Jacob Webb. On his first pitch, Taylor Ward hit a two-run homer and it was a 6-3 game fast.

Before today’s game, Hyde discussed how Henderson is swinging so much better this year against lefty pitching. He entered with an .804 OPS on the season versus southpaws.

Then he hit another homer – a solo shot to right-center off southpaw Tyler Anderson in the O’s top of the third for the 1-0 lead. Henderson hit No. 8 off a 1-0 cutter, sending it 379 feet and just over the wall. It would be a homer in just three of 30 ballparks. Henderson has hit five homers his last nine games and now is one off the major league homer lead.

That was No. 37 on the year for the Orioles, who have hit 27 home runs their past 13 games.

Adley Rutschman had a strong series in Anaheim and it continued in the O’s fifth inning. Henderson led off with his second hit of a the day, a double to left. Rutschman scored him with a line single to left for a 2-0 lead. At that point, he was 6-for-12 with three RBIs this series.

The O’s then scored four times in the sixth to open the 6-0 lead. Against reliever José Suarez, James McCann doubled and Colton Cowser walked. Jorge Mateo tried to produce a sac bunt but fouled of the pitch before drilling a ground-rule double to left for a 3-0 lead. Henderson’s big day continued then with a two-run single to center for his third hit, third RBI and a 5-0 advantage. When Rutschman singled again and Ryan Mountcastle bounced into a double play, it was a 6-0 Baltimore lead.

Henderson also doubled in the fifth and came to bat in the eighth, needing a triple for the cycle. But he got hit by a pitch for the second time today. Still on the game he went 3-for-3 with three runs, three RBIs and a stolen base. He is batting .309 with a 1.022 OPS. Today he produced his third three-hit game and 10th multi-hit contest of the season. 

“Been making some adjustments," said Henderson of his hitting. "Kind of felt like I was getting around to where I wanted to be but still not exactly where I want to be. But felt like I made some good improvements in the cage today, so getting the progress.”

As if his day wasn't strong enough, Henderson made a nice play and throw from deep short to end the Angels eighth. If you wanted to give him the No. 1 star role today, it would be hard to argue. 

Gunnar was modest in talking about his day. Hyde was not.

“He is doing everything," the manager said. "Huge play defensively there in the eighth. He gets on first there, things change a little bit. But playing great defense. Homers. Steals. Running the bases. Hits. Awesome."

Kremer got 18 whiffs today showing real swing and miss stuff. He got a combined 17 on his four-seamer and cutter.

“McCann and I and the coaching staff had a pretty good plan and I think what we did well was reading swings today," he said. "Kind of went in with a solid approach and executed.

“I don’t know that I have any outlier stuff. But, if I can be good with three of the five pitches or four of the five pitches, it’s hard for them to sit on one particular thing. And I think we did a good mixing up today."

The O's had chances to score more than six runs but went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners. With Kremer not getting through the sixth, the error in the ninth and almost blowing a big lead, it was far from a complete day for the Orioles.

It was a winning day.

"We’ll take it any way we can get it," said Henderson before boarding the team charter for the long flight back east. 

The Orioles are now 8-2 in games decided by two runs or less.

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