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BALTIMORE—Life without Oriole closer Félix Bautista began with a sellout crowd of 42,535 coming to Oriole Park on Bautista’s bobblehead night.
It ended, not with a Bautista flourish, but with Yennier Cano retiring three batters in the ninth — after the umpires had him change gloves — and with Bautista in the handshake line offering congratulations instead of him accepting them.
In between, Oriole starter Kyle Bradish limited the Colorado Rockies to two runs on six hits, and the bullpen without Bautista doing an effective job in a 5-4 Orioles win on Saturday night.
Bautista was placed on the 15-day injured list because of an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament on Saturday. Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias didn’t want to speculate on what the next step was, but the Orioles must prepare themselves for a newly configured bullpen.
The Orioles (81-48) are 33 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1997 season and lead Tampa Bay by three games in the American League East. The Rays beat the New York Yankees, 3-0.
Manager Brandon Hyde used Danny Coulombe, Jacob Webb, DL Hall and Cano, but that wasn’t necessarily how he drew it up.
“It’s going to be a different drawing nightly, probably,” Hyde said. “I’m not really sure. This all happened 1 o’clock this afternoon. Probably do things the way I did when Bautista wasn’t available and try to give these guys the best pockets that we can.”
Ryan Mountcastle’s two-run double gave the Orioles a 4-2 lead in the sixth, and Mountcastle scored on Austin Hays’ grounder to short.
Coulombe, who threw the final strike of Friday night’s game to Michael Toglia after Bautista’s injury, came in after Harold Castro doubled leading off the seventh, struck out Toglia and Brenton Doyle before he walked Charlie Blackmon.
Webb retired Ezequiel Tovar on a pop to second to end the seventh.
Webb, who hadn’t allowed a run in his first nine Orioles appearances, allowed two in the eighth.
Ryan McMahon walked and scored on Elias Diaz’s double, and after Nolan Jones’ bunt single against Hall, who was called up to replace Bautista on the roster, Brendan Rogers hit into a double play that scored Jones and Alan Trejo flied to right, ending the eighth.
Cano came in and was puzzled about the exchange of gloves.
“He patted his glove with the resin bag,” Hyde said. “They wanted him to get the resin off. They asked for a towel. They felt like we needed a wet towel. He just needed a new glove. Unfortunately, that killed the moment and the vibe and the anxiousness heightened.”
After he changed gloves, Cano quickly retired the side for his fifth save with sinkers and changeups.
“I think my emotions were a little high,” he said through a translator. “I wanted to do my best impression of him, go out there and do a job and do what he would do.”
Before the game, Cano said that instead of driving to the ballpark with Bautista as he does every day, he’d be driving alone and picking out his own music for the commute.
Cano has a hype video for his entrance, but nothing like Bautista’s.
“I’ll be expecting the music and the lights to start coming on,” he said. “He puts on an entire show out there.”
Cano was efficient and was delighted to see his friend waiting for him as he walked off the field.
“It was awesome. Aside from just being my teammate, he’s one of my best friends here,” Cano said. “It’s great being able to give him that handshake, knowing that we got the job done. Just getting that hug from him was great.”
Bradish (9-6) allowed two runs in the third on Blackmon’s RBI and a grounder to second by Tovar that scored Doyle.
“Full confidence. We’ve got more than capable arms down there,” Bradish said. “You can’t replace him, but you’ve got to fill that gap.”
Austin Hays walked in the fifth against Chris Flexen (1-6) stole second and advanced to third on a wild throw by Diaz and scored on Ramón Urías grounder to short. Hays was originally called out, but after a challenge, it was ruled Diaz did not give Hays a lane to score, and it was 2-1.
Notes: Jack Flaherty (8-8, 4.73) will face Ty Blach (1-1, 4.39) on Sunday at 1:35 p.m.
Kjerstad to Orioles? The Orioles get to add a position player when the rosters expand from 26 to 28. It’s possible that the Orioles’ top draft choice from 2020, outfielder/first baseman Heston Kjerstad, is recalled from Triple-A Norfolk, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said.
“Any time you’re hitting well in Triple-A, you start getting discussed by the manager and the major league staff and the front office,” Elias said. “He’s definitely entered that conversation, but there are other players, other position players that could make sense.
“Things change day-to-day, [if] we had a little injury to some particular position player, it’s going to necessitate something I’m not foreseeing right now. Heston is having a wonderful season, especially considering the context of everything that’s brought him to this point.
“He looks great. He’s not necessarily gone through or seen everything he could or will see at Triple-A, so it’s still not a waste from a development standpoint that he’s getting those at-bats, but he’s entered the conversation about the major league roster in a legitimate way and certainly a candidate for any part of the stretch run here, should we decide he’s the guy.”
Minor league update: Lewin Díaz’s pinch-hit single gave Triple-A Norfolk a 13-12 win over Durham.
First baseman Coby Mayo hit two home runs, a solo shot and a three-run homer. Third baseman Josh Lester and designated hitter Kyle Stowers also homered.
Garrett Stallings started and allowed eight runs on nine hits in 1 2/3 innings. The Tides trailed 11-1 after 2 ½ innings.
Trace Bright, Houston Roth (6-2), Kade Strowd and Nolan Hoffman combined to limit Erie to three hits in Double-A Bowie’s 3-0 win.
Trey McGough (0-1) allowed three runs on two hits in 3 2/3 innings in High-A Aberdeen’s 4-2 loss to Hudson Valley.
Luis De Leon (3-0) Zane Barnhart and Teddy Sharkey combined for six scoreless innings in relief in Single-A Delmarva’s 5-4 win over Lynchburg.
Aberdeen catcher Samuel Basallo and Norfolk catcher Anthony Bemboom were placed on the concussion Injured list. …Delmarva outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. left the game with a bruised left calf when he was hit by a pitch.
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