CHICAGO—Shortly before game time, third baseman Gunnar Henderson was scratched because of a stomach flu, and manager Brandon Hyde didn’t have many choices for a replacement.
The Orioles, who have been one of the healthiest teams in baseball this season, suddenly have seven players on the injured list, and the team still managed to avoid being swept for the first time this season with a 6-3 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday before an announced crowd of 40,121 at Wrigley Field
Hyde said that Henderson should be ready to play on Tuesday when the Orioles begin a two-game series at Tampa Bay.
Ninety minutes before game time, backup catcher James McCann was added to the injured list because of a sprained left ankle. In the last three weeks, centerfielder Cedric Mullins (strained right groin), first baseman Ryan Mountcastle (vertigo), relievers Mychal Givens (right shoulder inflammation) and Austin Voth (right elbow discomfort) joined the injured list — Givens for the second time.
Reliever Dillon Tate (right elbow discomfort) and starter John Means (Tommy John surgery) haven’t pitched for the team this season.
“You’re going to go through stretches where you’re going to lose players in the season, and the good teams can right the ship until they get back,” Hyde said. “We have some guys right now that are really playing well and helping out with the loss of some guys that have really helped us in the last couple of years.”
The game didn’t begin well for Oriole starting pitcher Dean Kremer, who allowed a home run to Mike Tauchman on his first pitch in the bottom of the first.
Anthony Santander led off the fourth with his 10th homer against Cubs starter Jameson Taillon (2-5). Ryan O’Hearn singled, Aaron Hicks walked and Ramón Urías singled to put the Orioles ahead, 2-1.
Hicks, who had two hits, is batting .327 in 16 games since the Orioles signed him to replace the injured Mullins.
“It’s crazy because the opportunity just presented itself,” Hicks said. “To have the opportunity to come here, play every day and play center field has been awesome. With O’Hearn here, he’s been hitting the ball great. He’s been putting up really good at-bats and been productive for us. It’s awesome to be part of that.”
Cody Belllinger’s drive to right field was dropped by O’Hearn for a three-base error with two outs in the fourth. Christopher Morel hit a line drive home run to give the Cubs (33-38) a 3-2 lead, a hot batter Kremer thought he should have pitched around.
“Bad execution on my part. I had more to work with, especially with an open base,” Kremer said. “It’s my fault. I should have done a better job mentally, but I’m glad the offense came back around and picked me up.”
The Orioles (44-27) scored three runs in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Urías and RBI singles by Adam Frazier and Jorge Mateo.
Mateo was tagged out at second trying for a double, the second of three Orioles to be thrown out on the bases. Austin Hays led off the game with a double and was thrown out trying to score from third on Anthony Santander’s fly to center. Santander was easily thrown out trying to stretch a single with one out in the seventh.
“We weren’t catching any breaks at all this series so to be able to come out with a win today, that was huge,” Hyde said.
Kremer (8-3) allowed three runs, two unearned, on three hits in five innings.
Danny Coulombe, Mike Baumann, Yennier Cano and Félix Bautista combined for four hitless innings, though Baumann hit consecutive batters in the seventh. Bautista recorded his 19th save.
“We gave up three hits today and we feel like we squeaked one out,” Hyde said.
In the ninth, Adley Rutschman’s RBI double scored Hays with two outs for a 6-3 lead.
The Orioles haven’t been swept since May 13th-15th, 2022.
“Knock on wood, first of all,” Kremer said. “Second of all, guys come ready to play every day, every series. If we drop one, drop another one, we’re hungry for that next one.”
Hicks played 30 postseason games with the Yankees, and he thinks the Orioles have the ability to play well into October.
“Of course,” he said. “You’ve got to have a steady lineup that’s out there producing every single day. A starting pitcher that’s able to shut guys down. You’ve got be able to be resilient, especially when you’re down. That’s definitely what I’ve been seeing, especially since I’ve been here. Even though we might be losing by two or three, they’re still ready to go and having great at-bats late into the games.”
Perhaps some of those on the injured list will rejoin the team soon, but Hyde is playing with who he has.
“I just think that’s how it happens,” Hyde said. “You never know when it’s going to happen. You’re going to lose players. You prefer not to lose them all at once. We’re going to have injuries over the next few months. We play every day. That’s why you have a 40-man roster.”
Notes: In his latest rehab assignment, Dillon Tate walked the four batters he faced and all four scored as Triple-A Norfolk lost to Worcester, 11-5. Designated hitter Daz Cameron hit his 11th home run. … Catcher Ramón Rodriguez hit a three-run home run his first, and third baseman César Prieto had three hits as Double-A Bowie lost to Richmond, 10-6. … Centerfielder Luis Valdez had three hits and drove in three runs as High-A Aberdeen lost to Brooklyn, 7-3. … After Monday’s offday, the Orioles play two games at Tampa Bay. Kyle Bradish (2-3, 3.90) will face Tyler Glasnow (2-0, 3.43) on Tuesday night, and Tyler Wells (6-2, 3.20) will face Taj Bradley (4-3, 3.19) on Wednesday at 12:10 p.m.