Concern about Bautista looms after Orioles' 5-4 win over Rockies; Henderson hits 2-run homer in 8th -
Rich Dubroff

Concern about Bautista looms after Orioles’ 5-4 win over Rockies; Henderson hits 2-run homer in 8th

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan USA TODAY Sports

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BALTIMORE—The Orioles were one strike away from recording their third straight win and closer Félix Bautista was about to register his 34th save.

Suddenly, manager Brandon Hyde and trainer Brian Ebel came to the mound, and the 6-foot-8 Bautista walked off.

Danny Coulombe came in to face the Colorado Rockies’ Michael Toglia and struck him out on one pitch for his second save, but instead of a joyous celebration after a come-from-behind 5-4 win, there was concern for Bautista.

“Bautista left the game with some arm discomfort. He’s still being checked out,” Hyde said. “We’re going to get a bunch of tests and see how it is.”

Hyde had no indication that anything was wrong after Bautista struck out Jurickson Profar and Harold Castro grounded out to second. He went to 2-2 on Toglia before coming out of the game.

“When the best closer in the game leaves the game, that’s never a good feeling,” Hyde said. “Hopefully, he’s OK tomorrow.”

The Orioles were trailing the Rockies, who have the worst record in the National League, by one run in the bottom of the eighth. The Rockies had lost four straight and their starting pitcher, Kyle Freeland, was 5-13 with a 5.02 earned-run average entering the game.

Gunnar Henderson hit a two-run home run off left-hander Brent Suter, leaping his way into the dugout after he crossed home plate, to lift the Orioles to their 5-4 win before an announced crowd of 28,872 at Camden Yards on Friday night.

“On a night we didn’t have our best offensive approach, Gun getting a big hit there. We needed it,” Hyde said. “We got big hits and big hits late … Those are the at-bats that we’ve had this year. That’s why we’ve won a lot of games.”

Suter (4-3) walked Austin Hays before Henderson hit his 22nd home run to right field for a 5-4 lead.

“It’s really awesome. I was really happy to do it to help the team come back in a way like that,” Henderson said. “It’s what you dream of as a kid to hit a homer like that and it was pretty cool.”

While Henderson celebrated after the home run, the clubhouse was much more subdued after the game because of concern for Bautista.

“I hope it’s nothing serious,” Henderson said. “Hopefully, it’s just day-to-day. I don’t know what it was. I don’t know any details or anything. I hope he’s OK. I hope he gets better soon. I saw him fall off kind of awkwardly. I don’t know what it was.”

Reliever Shintaro Fujinami (6-8) allowed one hit and struck out two in two scoreless innings to record his first win with the Orioles.

“He’s going to be lights out for us,” Hyde said. “I love the strike-throwing ability he’s showing right now, how aggressive he is in the strike zone. He’s trusting his fastball more, which is great.”

The Orioles (80-48) have won three straight and with the win will avoid being swept for the 81st consecutive series. They’re 32 games over .500 for the first time since September 24th, 2014.

With the Tampa Bay Rays’ 6-2 loss to the New York Yankees, the Orioles’ lead in the American League East is up to three games.

Ryan Mountcastle hit his 18th home run against Freeland with one out in the first. The ball hit just over the grounds crew shed in right. Henderson’s sacrifice fly gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead.

Elias Díaz’s double scored Charlie Blackmon in the third, and Colorado tied it against Oriole starter Cole Irvin in the fourth on Alan Trejo’s sacrifice fly.

Irvin walked Blackmon to start the fifth, and Ezequiel Tovar followed with his 15th homer to give Colorado (48-80) a 4-2 lead.

Freeland retired 12 Orioles in a row after Jordan Westburg’s leadoff single in the second.

Hays hit his 13th home run in the sixth with two outs. Henderson and James McCann singled, both extending their hitting streaks to 10 games. With runners on first and third, Westburg grounded to third.

Irvin allowed four runs on six hits in six innings, but the questions weren’t about his performance. They were about Bautista.

“He’s been our closer all year. He’s been electric all year,” Irvin said. “I know the fans love him. You want one of your best guys to still be pitching for you. Hopefully, it’s nothing negative and needs a little bit of time, but I don’t know what’s going to happen to him or what to expect, just praying for him. That’s the biggest thing. That’s all we can do. He’s been huge for us.”

Notes: Kyle Bradish (8-6, 3.03) will face Chris Flexen (1-5, 7.18) at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Minor league update: Pitcher John Means, who’s returning from Tommy John surgery, allowed one run on four hits in 4 1/3 innings, throwing 72 pitches, walking two and striking out two in Triple-A Norfolk’s 12-9 win over Durham.

The Tides scored eight runs in the first. Centerfielder Mike Cameron hit a grand slam, his 14th home run. Cameron drove in five runs.

Tyler Wells, who’s hoping to return to the Orioles, earned the save, allowing a walk and striking out one in a scoreless ninth.

Erie beat Double-A Bowie, 4-3. Leftfielder Dontá Williams hit his eighth home run.

Hudson Valley defeated High-A Aberdeen, 6-5. IronBirds catcher Samuel Basallo was removed from the game as a precaution after taking a foul tip off the catcher’s mask.

Second baseman Mac Horvath drove in two runs and hit his second home run as Single-A Delmarva beat Lynchburg, 4-3.

Carter Baumler (1-0) allowed a run on one hit in three innings, striking out three and walking two. Four Shorebirds pitchers limited Lynchburg to three hits.

Centerfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. stole his 15th base.


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