HOUSTON – Mike Baumann could have missed it.
The Orioles recalled Baumann from Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday, one day before they clinched a playoff berth and popped champagne corks. Baumann was soaked in beer and bubbly. He almost had a dry September.
The timing was ideal for Baumann, who swapped roster spots with reliever Bryan Baker.
“I was very happy to be a part of it,” he said. “I love these guys in the clubhouse and they’ve been working so hard this year. To be able to celebrate that moment was very special.”
Baumann broke camp with the team in a new role. The Orioles settled on him as a reliever who’d work in shorter bursts. Forget the rotation. Forget the responsibility to provide length out of the bullpen.
The Orioles optioned Baumann on Aug. 23 after he allowed three runs in the 10th inning against Toronto and suffered his first loss in 10 decisions. He tossed six scoreless innings with one hit allowed with Norfolk, was bypassed for Baker and finally got the call.
Imagine the celebration envy for the optioned players who didn’t come back, including Baker, pitcher Cole Irvin and outfielder Ryan McKenna. The baseball gods didn’t cut them a break.
“I’m just very fortunate to be able to enjoy my first champagne celebration and playoff berth,” Baumann said before surrendering a home run last night but earning his 10th win. “I’m very lucky to be in that situation.”
The buzz wore off and players went back to work. They had a three-game series against the first-place Astros. The magic number is nine to clinch the first division title since 2014.
“You’ve got to enjoy the moment and then the next day show up and take care of business,” Baumann said. “There’s a lot of baseball left and a lot of work to be done. Hopefully, playing deep into October.”
“That was yesterday,” reliever Yennier Cano said via interpreter Brandon Quinones, before earning his seventh save. “We celebrated to the maximum yesterday and had a lot of fun, but today’s a new page. Today, we come back and we regroup and we focus and get back to work and compete really hard against this team and try to win this division.”
Gunnar Henderson isn’t a stranger to clubhouse celebrations but being a 22-year-old rookie allowed him to party with the grown-ups.
“We clinched playoffs in Bowie, but I was still like 20 at the time, so I had to do it with water and sparkling grape juice,” he said, laughing. “That was the first time I actually got to do it with champagne.”
Henderson, who had three hits last night, including his ninth triple, finally was able to find a pair of googles.
“They came out a little late, so I did get a little bit in the eyes,” he said. “But it was really fun and wouldn’t change it for the world.”
* Rosters are being set for the Arizona Fall League, with the Orioles sending players to the Mesa Solar Sox.
One interesting name is left-hander Trey McGough, selected from the Pirates organization in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft.
McGough attended Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, and he’s recovered from Tommy John surgery. He allowed six runs with four walks and 13 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings at Triple-A Indianapolis in 2022, appearing in only eight games before having the procedure.
Four affiliates had McGough on their roster this year, and he posted a 3.05 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with a .169 opponents’ average in seven games totaling 20 2/3 innings. He allowed seven earned runs and 12 hits with 11 walks and 22 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings and made his final stop in Bowie.
Director of minor league operations Kent Qualls provided a scouting report after the Rule 5 draft.
“He was high on our list,” Qualls said. “Still relatively young at 24. Basically, a left-handed starter that had advanced and moved pretty quickly through the Pirates’ org. Was able to get to Triple-A in three seasons. Has a good mix of four pitches, with an average-to-plus fastball at 91-94. Really good slider and changeup.
“We don’t have a ton of left-handed pitching, so we thought it was interesting to acquire a left-handed pitcher in this spot. And we also felt comfortable with the fact that he had TJ and his recovery timeline. We would still have him under control for three seasons, so we still felt like there was enough development time where we would have him under contract even after the rehab was completed.”
* John Means has a career 1.97 ERA against the American League West, with 16 earned runs in 73 innings. He ranks fourth on the all-time list in a minimum 10 starts, ahead of Don Gullett’s 2.16, per STATS.
Pedro Martinez is third with a 1.92 ERA and Clayton Kershaw is second at 1.84.
Who ranks first?
Kyle Bradish with a 1.34 ERA. He’s allowed nine runs in 60 1/3 innings.