CLEVELAND – Gunnar Henderson is playing shortstop tonight for the first time in the majors, with manager Brandon Hyde wanting to move him around the infield - mainly on the left side. But Hyde also wanted to provide some rest for Jorge Mateo, who hasn't been idle since July 30.
Mateo has appeared in 121 games in his first full season in the majors. He could use a breather.
“It’s just giving Jorgie a game off,” Hyde said this afternoon. “I can’t remember the last time he’s had a game off. We’ve got a long stretch ahead of us and just wanted to give Jorgie a day today.”
Same with outfielder Austin Hays, who joins Mateo on the bench. Nothing related to his health.
Henderson provided a jolt to the offense last night with his home run and single, but Hyde isn’t asking him to carry a heavy load.
Tapping the brakes a little bit.
“Gunnar has the ability to get on base for us, add a little bit of pop, like you saw last night, be able to play three infield spots, but he’s also 21 years old and really, really young,” Hyde said. “It’s not an easy thing we’re asking him to do, so I don’t want him to do too much. I just really want him to try to hit line drives in the middle of the field and take as good of at-bats as he possibly can and make the routine play defensively.”
Jesús Aguilar makes his Orioles debut as the designated hitter.
“It’s just somebody who’s got a lot of experience, a guy that’s driven in runs in the past,” Hyde said.
“Hoping he can help us out. Hoping for a spark offensively from him, and hopefully it starts tonight.”
Aguilar also provides a true first baseman to back up Ryan Mountcastle. The club has been arranging pre-game work for Anthony Santander, Adley Rutschman and Terrin Vavra.
“Jessie’s played a lot of first base in his career in the big leagues,” Hyde said. “To be able to have two guys … Mounty’s playing so good defensively. That’s not being talked about enough. The plays he’s made, especially the last week, the improvement he’s made defensively, it’s been great.”
Mountcastle can concentrate on one position now that he’s no longer used in left field.
“To be able to not worry about any of the outfield stuff anymore and just be able to focus every day on the work he’s putting in, it’s really paid off,” Hyde said.
Rosters expanded to 28 players today, giving Hyde another reliever and a longer bench. Not as good as 30, but he isn’t fighting it.
“I’d like to have as many as possible,” he said.
“I think every team right now is welcoming having an extra bullpen arm and an extra position player for flexibility, versatility,” Hyde said. “To be able to give guys days off and be able to match up, also, I think it’s coming at the right time.”
DL Hall is in the bullpen for the first time in the majors. He'll be available on Friday.
Hyde will let the games dictate how he uses Hall, and the number of innings could dictate pitch selection.
Hall might not have to empty the bag.
"I don't think it's going to change much except he knows that it's going to be a shorter sprint than it is for staying out there for a while," Hyde said. "We talked about it with him yesterday, about just being as aggressive as he possibly can for the time that he's out there. You don't have to worry about staying out there anymore, you don't have to worry about monitoring your pitch count, those types of things. It's about going to get the three hitters out this inning and then we'll go from there. I think it's going to benefit him.
"I'm just going to try to go win games, so whatever it takes."
The Orioles begin a 10-game homestand after tonight, including Monday’s makeup doubleheader against the Blue Jays. Twenty of their last 32 game will be played at Camden Yards.
“We welcome it, for sure,” said Hyde, whose club is 37-24 in Baltimore. “We’re looking forward to playing a lot of games in front of home fans in September, and hopefully games that mean stuff. Looking forward to going home. I feel like we have been on the road quite a bit, and to be able to play in front of our fans is going to be fun.”
Outfielder Colton Cowser’s first Triple-A hit was a home run this afternoon against Lehigh Valley. Jordan Westburg hit his 14th homer, a three-run shot. Brett Cumberland had three hits.
Travis Lakins Sr. relieved Beau Sulser, who tossed three scoreless innings, and allowed four runs and four hits with three walks in 1 1/3 innings. Zac Lowther allowed three runs and four hits in 1 2/3, and Phoenix Sanders was charged with four runs and four hits in one inning.
For the Guardians
Steven Kwan LF
Amed Rosario SS
José Ramírez 3B
Josh Naylor 1B
Oscar González RF
Andrés Giménez 2B
Owen Miller DH
Austin Hedges C
Myles Straw CF
Shane Bieber RHP