More memorable Orioles moments from 2022 season

The countdown has started. Get ready to raise a glass, and your expectations for the 2023 season if you dare.

I’m still looking back at 2022. I’ll make my resolutions, and my spring travel arrangements, at a later date. My personal and professional lives slamming together as usual.

Here are a few more memorable Orioles moments to go with yesterday’s post:

* Gunnar Henderson made his major league debut on Aug. 31 in Cleveland, with news of his promotion breaking late the previous night.

I might have been enjoying a beverage or two at the hotel bar, but there was room for my laptop. Didn’t spill a drop.

Henderson, 21, collected his first hit in his first game, launching a fourth-inning slider from Triston McKenzie 429 feet over the fence in right-center field. He became the fourth player in Orioles history to homer in his debut and the first since Trey Mancini on Sept. 20, 2016 against the Red Sox. He also was the youngest.

Adding to the fun was Henderson's helmet flying off his head as he bolted out of the box. Never mind a bat flip. Henderson celebrated the moment with a hair flip.

“We tried them on, and that was the closest one,” Henderson said. "I guess I got too much hair going on."

The helmet was lost again after he singled in the ninth.

"I think we need to get him a chin strap or some Velcro or something,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

* Second baseman Rougned Odor is one and done with the Orioles. He appeared in 135 games and the numbers were underwhelming, including his .207/.275/.357 line.

But Odor delivered some clutch hits, including two walk-offs within a three-game period against the Rays on May 20 and 22.

Odor clubbed a two-run homer in the 13th inning, the ball landing on the flag court in right field to break the Rays’ streak of 15 wins in a row against the Orioles. And his fielder’s choice grounder up the first base line scored Adley Rutschman to cap an exciting week for the veteran and his teammates.

Odor’s big swing produced the latest walk-off homer in the majors since 2019 and the latest by an Oriole since Manny Machado in the 13th inning on Aug. 14, 2015 against the Athletics.

The Orioles had three walk-off wins in four games, including Anthony Santander’s three-run homer against the Yankees on May 19. They hadn’t done that since Sept. 25-29, 1974.

“We don’t quit,” Hyde said.

* The Orioles turned a 6-4-3 triple play in the third inning of a Sept. 18 game in Toronto, the 15th in club history and first since Aug. 3, 2017.

With Dean Kremer on the mound, Matt Chapman lined out to shortstop Jorge Mateo, who flipped to second baseman Terrin Vavra to double off Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Vavra threw to first baseman Jesús Aguilar to nab Bo Bichette.

This was a big series with the Orioles trying to stay in the wild card chase, and they worked more of their late-inning magic by tallying three runs in the ninth inning and holding on for a 5-4 win.

* Cody Sedlock finally reached the majors, pitching in relief on May 29 in Boston. Six years after the Orioles selected him in the first round out of the University of Illinois.

This would be Sedlock’s lone appearance. He allowed five runs and six hits in three innings in a 12-2 loss.

The Orioles designated Sedlock for assignment in June after claiming Austin Voth off waivers from the Nationals. Sedlock was outrighted and then traded to the Tigers in July for cash considerations.

* Sedlock’s debut, his only game in the majors, would have received more attention except that left-hander Bruce Zimmermann started that day and tied a club record by surrendering five home runs. Zimmermann joined Jim Palmer, Don Larsen, Mike Mussina and Jeremy Hellickson on the list.

That’s two Hall of Famers, a pitcher who threw a perfect game in the World Series … and Jeremy Hellickson.

* Jorge López made his first All-Star team during his first season as the closer. No one could argue with the selection. He earned it.

López provided plenty of highlights, but what stuck with me were the two blown saves in Minnesota in back-to-back games at the beginning of July. His first two home runs surrendered in the season. And how he handled the adversity.

Exactly as you’d expect.

López stood at his locker while the media made its rounds. He didn’t duck us or take out his frustrations on us. He exhibited the same kindness and class, cementing his reputation as one of baseball’s really good guys.

Those home runs were shocking. How López reacted to them was predictable.

* Reliever Bryan Baker is enthusiastic. That’s a good way to phrase it. He wears his emotions on his sleeve.

The Blue Jays didn’t appreciate it. Their emotions also were on display.

Benches and bullpens emptied on Sept. 6 after Baker struck out Matt Chapman to end the seventh inning and made a “talking” gesture with his hand while staring at the Jays’ dugout, perhaps suggesting that they were chirping at him. He pointed, took a few steps toward their bench and was cut off by catcher Adley Rutschman.

Mateo tried to hold back Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Teoscar Hernández, who grounded into a double play before Chapman struck out. Hernández lost his temper and his jersey.

The two sides have a past. The Orioles claimed Baker off waivers from the Jays on Nov. 8, 2021 after only one major league relief appearance. And Hernández homered off him the previous night.

“Just a disagreement, just something that got taken too far," Baker said. "It probably shouldn’t have come to that. It was just a disagreement with, Teoscar who I’ve played with before. It just went a little bit too far.

“Everybody knows at this point I’m pretty fired up, I’m pretty intense out there. It was nothing toward their team or anything. It was just kind of letting him know that I know he’s talking. There’s really no issue with the team or anything like that. I don’t think there’s any bad blood or anything like that. I was just letting him know that, really.”

The message was received.

“I guess he was mad because yesterday I hit a homer,” Hernández said. “Every time he pitches against us, he tries to make a show.”

* Nothing usually comes from these dustups, though this one seemed like more than just the usual milling around. It got intense, with multiple Jays trying hard to get to Baker, and then it was over. And the media scrambles to pass along every detail to its readers, challenged to identify players and put eyes on every individual in the scrum.

Video helps.

There wasn’t much assistance coming on June 1 after top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez left his start for Triple-A Norfolk with an apparent injury. Nothing to put eyes on from the Camden Yards press box. Just a box score.

Texts were sent frantically to anyone who might provide more information. The key was finding the right people who actually knew what happened and would be willing to share. Can’t just run with speculation.

Rodriguez had thrown 63 pitches across 5 2/3 innings before receiving a mound visit from manager Buck Britton and pitching coach Justin Ramsey. He left with an athletic trainer after a lengthy discussion.

The Orioles later confirmed the discomfort in Rodriguez’s right lat, and the diagnosis of a Grade 2 strain that killed his chances of being promoted. He didn’t pitch again until Sept. 1, exactly three months later, and wasn’t included on the Orioles’ expanded roster.

“The timing of this stinks,” said executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias.

 It wasn’t a thrill ride for media scrambling to get the details.

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