NEW YORK—Two hours before gametime, there was a postseason buzz around Yankee Stadium. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde’s pregame media session had many more participants than it usually does, and that’s because Hyde’s team is facing Aaron Judge, who’s attempting to set the American League record for home runs.
Judge will bat leadoff against Oriole starter Jordan Lyles as he seeks record-breaking home run No. 62. Judge tied Roger Maris on Wednesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“What an awesome experience for some of these rookies we have up here,” Hyde said. “This is what it feels like, the amount of media, the number of people on the field, the October air right now. It’s a special time to be playing baseball, for young guys to be able to experience this type of attention and what it feels like. This is going to be awesome.”
Hyde was asked to describe what makes Judge special.
“This guy’s having an incredible year. He’s an unbelievable player,” Hyde said. “It’s a cool moment. This guy’s so special, so good … it’s a once in a lifetime type of thing.”
Judge hit his 61st home run at Toronto after going through seven homerless games. Hyde knew last week that the Orioles could face Judge when he was going for the record.
“I was hoping he’d get hot,” Hyde said. “You never know what’s going to happen. Obviously, saw the schedule, and I knew we were going to playing him during this time, and I was watching the Blue Jays series to see how that went, and he got one, and good for him, and now he’s got the Orioles.”
Lyles was the choice to make the start because he had a two-inning start on Monday because of a 1-hour, 40-minute rain delay, Hyde said. It helps that he’s the most experienced starter.
“It’s nice to have veteran guys on the mound in an atmosphere like this,” Hyde said. “You don’t know how young guys are going to react, respond … to have Jordan on the mound in this kind of environment, it’s cool.”
Hyde was part of a World Series winner when he was the first base coach of the Chicago Cubs in 2016, but a 62nd home run is different.
“I haven’t seen a potential milestone like this.” he said. “I’ve been a part of a bunch of no-hitters and things like that, which makes you quiet or nervous. Postseason series are super cool, but not an individual accomplishment like this, I’ve never been a part of. I’m hoping he waits until next series.”
Hyde isn’t sure how he’ll react if Judge hits the milestone home run against his team.
“I’ve actually thought about that, thought about, ‘What reaction do you have after your pitcher has given up a homer?’ You want to applaud and congratulate someone that does something so special and something you’ve never seen before. Maybe the score will dictate what our reaction will be. I don’t what it’s going to be, honestly … let’s wait until the next series, and I can, hopefully, cheer in front of the TV.”
Odor on Judge: Rougned Odor is not in the starting lineup for Friday’s game. Odor played second base for the Yankees last year and raved about playing with Judge and his accomplishments.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Odor said. “I know how good he is, how good a teammate he is. He’s a really good guy. This is no surprise for me. I know he can do a lot of good things, more than what he’s doing right now. He’s a really good player, a good teammate, too.
“Off the field, not only on the field. Everybody’s good on the field. Everybody’s in the big leagues. We all play good in the field, and he’s unbelievable off the field. He cares about everybody and he always worries about everybody. In the clubhouse, he’s talking to everybody, asking how everybody feels. He’s a really good teammate.”
Minor league awards: Infielder Jordan Westburg, who hit .265 with 27 home runs and 106 RBIs for Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk, was named the Orioles’ Minor League Player of the Year.
Ryan Watson, who was 7-5 with one save and a 3.44 earned-run average for Bowie and Norfolk, is the team’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
High-A Aberdeen’s Roberto Mercado, in his first year of managing in professional baseball, won the team’s player development award.
Scott Walter was named the team’s scout of the year.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB