CLEVELAND – Three days after the Orioles optioned outfielder Ryan McKenna to Triple-A Norfolk, they clinched their first playoff berth since 2016 and celebrated with gusto.
But without McKenna.
He can work on his timing at the plate but has no control over the timing of his demotions.
“Yeah, it was tough not being there with the guys, but it was also a happy moment, you know?” McKenna said, after the Orioles recalled him Wednesday and placed Ryan Mountcastle on the injured list.
“Everybody worked so hard. It was a good celebration, and nothing taken away from that moment for them. And for us, being a part of the team. But we’re looking forward to more, and it’s going to be exciting coming down to the wire. It’s going to be fun baseball to watch. But yeah, it’s always good to be able to celebrate.
“Maybe I wasn’t there in the moment but I was happy for everybody.”
McKenna, Tyler Wells, Cole Irvin, Bryan Baker, Joey Krehbiel and Austin Voth missed out. Mike Baumann barely made it, with the Orioles recalling him a day earlier. He was optioned Friday when Wells returned to the club, long after his uniform dried.
“I saw (the celebration) on social and some of the videos that were taken and whatnot,” McKenna said. “I was actually at home. I was watching the game a little bit, but I was also trying to just kind of get ready for whatever I needed to be doing as well.”
The magic number is three to clinch the division for the first time since 2014, a year before the Orioles drafted McKenna in the fourth round out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in New Hampshire. The lockers and floor can be covered in plastic again. McKenna could be in the middle of the action or gone again if Mountcastle is activated. The first baseman is eligible on Wednesday, though he still hasn’t swung a bat.
Ah, the timing.
“Celebrating is what you strive for as a player and somebody in the big leagues,” McKenna said. “It’s a special moment, so just keep them coming is what we’re looking forward to.”
* The Orioles are off after playing 17 games in 17 days, an exhausting stretch that manager Brandon Hyde called “really, really unfair and unhealthy.”
A team reveals a little more about itself under adverse conditions.
“We’re pretty consistent all year,” Hyde said.
“I learned that it’s the end of the year and we just had 17 days in a row, which is not easy, especially on the road at the end. We’re looking forward to the off-day tomorrow.”
* Adley Rutschman doubled twice and walked twice yesterday. He has 14 hits in 31 at-bats during an eight-game hitting streak.
Rutschman has reached base 248 times, the most by a primary catcher since Jonathan Lucroy (244) in 2014. His 20 multi-walk games are the most by an Oriole since Nick Markakis had 19 in 2008.
The Guardians are glad to be done with Rutschman. He went 11-for-20 against them in six games, with three doubles, three RBIs and a 1.259 OPS.
* Before yesterday, Cedric Mullins was hitting .286 against off-speed pitches away from Camden Yards this season and .175 against them in Baltimore, according to STATS.
Anthony Santander began yesterday hitting .361 when he was ahead in the count and .326 when even, but .205 when behind.
I didn’t do a deep dive into it. That’s all.
Mullins’ RBI single yesterday that halted an 0-for-18 skid came on a 94.7 mph fastball.