Gunnar Henderson’s move to the top of the order tonight makes him the fifth-youngest Orioles leadoff hitter in club history, as well as the youngest since Manny Machado on Sept. 22, 2013.
Henderson, at 21 years and 83 days, is the youngest player to bat leadoff in the majors since the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr on Aug. 13, 2019.
Manager Brandon Hyde is trying to find a spark for the offense against Tigers left-hander Joey Wentz.
“We’ve had a tough time against left-handed pitching, especially of late, and just like the swings that he’s been taking,” Hyde said. “Giving it a try. Like to see him be at the top of the order and get as many at-bats as possible.”
The Orioles are 27-19 against left-handed starters this season, but Tyler Alexander no-hit them for six innings last night. Rich Hill started on Sept. 11 when the Red Sox shut out the Orioles 1-0.
“I feel like in the past few years that was our best shot was against left-handed pitching because we were so right-handed,” Hyde said.
“I don’t know. We’ve had a tough time staying on the baseball a little bit. I thought Alexander did a great job of pitching to both sides of the plate yesterday, but we’ve got to take better at-bats against left-handed pitching and be able to really keep the middle-of-the-field approach. Hopefully, we can start doing that today.”
Cedric Mullins is on the bench tonight. Hyde said Mullins is fine physically and he just wanted Ryan McKenna in the lineup versus a lefty.
“Just giving him a day off today,” Hyde said.
Tyler Wells will make his next start this weekend against the Astros at Camden Yards. Hyde said there hasn’t been any talk of shutting him down.
Wells has logged 103 2/3 innings with the Orioles in his first season as a starter in the majors. He totaled 57 last year as a Rule 5 reliever.
An oblique injury cost Wells about six weeks of the 2022 season. He’s made three starts this month and didn’t retire a batter in the fourth inning last night.
“As of right now he’s starting his next start, so that hasn’t changed,” Hyde said. “It’s going to go start-to-start, but there’s no consideration to shutting him down right now or anything like that. We haven’t even discussed it, honestly.”
Wells mentioned last night that some players might be putting too much pressure on themselves down the stretch, with games disappearing and the margin for the last wild card race holding or growing.
“I think that guys are trying real hard,” Hyde said. “I think the effort’s been great, and the games we haven’t played well, there’s been some frustration because, I guess if you want to say that’s putting pressure on yourself to try to do as well as you possibly can and stay in this thing as long as you possibly can. But a lot of these guys are playing in games they’ve never played in before, and I think they’ll just be better because of it.”
Hyde has emphasized to his club the importance of being able to “finish,” wherever it lands in the standings. Not to let up. Go hard before perhaps going home.
The Orioles are 8-9 this month after posting winning records in June, July and August.
“Let’s finish what we started and win as many games as possible, and hopefully we’re still playing after Game 162,” Hyde said. “But if not, to be able to finish the season as strong as we possibly can. That’s really important.
“We’re giving a lot of young guys some great experience right now. We’re trying to win every game possible. We’re playing a lot of competitive games. Last night was not one of them, but hopefully we can get back to playing like we know how to.”
Spenser Watkins was scratched from tonight’s start with Triple-A Norfolk, perhaps to keep him available in case the Orioles need a fresh arm. He was optioned Sept. 7 and must stay down 15 days unless replacing an injured player.
For the Tigers
Riley Greene CF
Willi Castro SS
Javier Báez DH
Harold Castro 2B
Spencer Torkelson 1B
Kerry Carpenter RF
Eric Haase C
Jeimer Candelario 3B
Akil Baddoo LF
Joey Wentz LHP