On the day the Orioles found out they've lost their closer for an indefinite period, you had to figure this game – played in front of a huge crowd – would be close in the late innings.
Maybe with the Orioles leading by a run late and needing to protect that lead.
With Félix Bautista now on the injured list while we await word on just how long he will be out, Yennier Cano got the first save chance in his absence.
The news about Bautista hit the team hard Friday night and certainly lingered into last night's game.
"It was a tough day for everybody," manager Brandon Hyde said. "This was a grind-out game."
And Cano got the save, getting two fly ball outs and a lineout to shortstop to record his fifth save on just 10 pitches.
"He wants the ball," Hyde said of Cano. "He's not afraid of the moment. He's not afraid to face middle-of-the-order bats. I love how aggressive he is, I love how Yenny pitches with no fear. He's had an All-Star type year."
Cano has now thrown 11 straight scoreless appearances for the Orioles since Aug. 3. So if he does move into the closer's role or get the bulk of the save chances without Bautista, he is a pitcher on a good roll right now.
Since Aug. 3, he has thrown 10 2/3 innings, allowing six hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts. In this span he has allowed a .158 batting average and .384 OPS with a WHIP of 0.66.
"I think my emotions were a little high and I just wanted to do my best impression of (Bautista)," Cano said via interpreter Brandon Quinones about getting a chance to save the game last night. "Go out there and complete the job and do whatever he would do."
Bautista watched from the dugout and came onto the field to congratulate Cano.
"It was awesome," Cano said. "Aside from being my teammate, he's one of my best friends here. It's great being able to give him that handshake, knowing we got the job done. Just getting that hug from him was great."
So on the first day without Bautista, the Orioles won the game and got a save doing it. It was a tough and emotional day for the team that responded well. They've responded to adversity well all year, but this was a different kind of adversity, and so far they've handled this part well, too.
Today, the Orioles (81-48) go for a three-game series sweep. It would be their third three-game sweep in the last seven series if they get it after taking three from the Mets Aug. 4-6 and three from Oakland Aug. 18-20.
The Orioles are 8-1 on weekends this month including those two sweeps and a series where they took two of three at Seattle. They also have had three-game sweeps in 2023 over Detroit, Toronto, Kansas City, Minnesota and Miami.
Right-hander Kyle Bradish gave the Orioles yet another quality start last night, allowing two runs over six innings. Bradish has posted a 2.12 ERA in August. The O's are now 42-13 when they get a quality start.
Gunnar Henderson went 1-for-4 with a run scored last night. He has now hit safely in 11 straight games – a career high – and he is 18-for-47 during the streak, batting .383/.400/.702/.1.102 with four doubles, a triple, three homers, 10 runs and 13 RBIs.
With another one-run win, the Orioles are now 40-18 (.690) in games decided by two runs or less. A team playing .690 ball over a full year would win 112 games.