PHOENIX—Gunnar Henderson couldn’t quite win Friday night’s game single-handedly, but it would have been fitting it he did.
Henderson made a wonderful play in the fourth inning, running far from his shortstop position to catch up with Nick Ahmed’s pop in short left field. Once he caught the ball, he wheeled and threw home to nail Corbin Carroll at the plate on a quick tag by catcher Adley Rutschman to save a run.
“It was obviously a soft hit down the third base line. I was running back there and checked to see if [leftfielder Austin Hays] was going to be there, and I saw he wasn’t really close to it,” Henderson said. “I turned back and I caught it, and I was able to get both outs.”
Henderson says he doesn’t practice plays like the one he made.
“I practice catching pop flies, and that just comes instinctively,” he said.
Two innings later, Henderson robbed Carroll of a base hit and turned another double play instead on a shot near second base.
Henderson scored both of the Orioles’ runs with a single in the first and a double in the eighth, but his play wasn’t enough to prevent the Oriole from falling to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-2, before an announced crowd of 18,248 at Chase Field.
“He had a great game, and he’s showing everybody why he’s Rookie of the Year,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s fun to watch him play right now, but we’ve got to do a lot more offensively. We didn’t swing the bat very well. We need a lot more offensively to keep the line moving and score more runs.”
The Orioles were just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, with first baseman Ryan O’Hearn driving in both runs.
Henderson singled in the first inning and scored on O’Hearn’s base hit against Arizona starter Zach Davies (2-5), a former Oriole minor leaguer. Davies allowed one run on four hits in six innings.
“I just thought we expanded the zone too much on him tonight,” Hyde said. “Give him credit, but we’ve got to score more than two runs to win these games.”
The Orioles (83-51) held on to their 1 ½ lead in the American League East because Tampa Bay lost to Cleveland, 3-2.
Oriole starter Cole Irvin (1-4) allowed a pair of two-run homers to Lourdes Gurriel, his 21st, and Christian Walker, who played just 13 games for the Orioles in 2014 and 2015 before they cut ties with him. Walker, whose path was blocked at first base by Chris Davis and Trey Mancini, hit his 29th.
Irvin gave up four runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings and wasn’t certain that Henderson would make the catch on the ball hit by Ahmed.
“I would have been OK if the run had scored in the moment,” Irvin said. “But, at the same time, I wanted him to catch it. There was going to be a play on it. I didn’t realize it was going to be that tight. That was an awesome play by him. I just wanted him to catch that ball down the line. That was the first worry for me. Great double play. I was fired up. This team shows no sign of quitting—every night.”
After four singles against Davies, Jordan Westburg doubled against relief pither Kyle Nelson with one out in the seventh, but the inning ended when Ramón Urías, who was convinced he’d drawn a walk against Kevin Ginkel, was called out on strikes by home plate umpire Tom Hanrahan when he was already halfway to first.
Henderson doubled against Gunkel with one out in the eighth and scored on O’Hearn’s double. Hays struck out to end the inning.
Cedric Mullins singled to lead off against Arizona closer Paul Sewald in the ninth. He stole second. Westburg and Adam Frazier struck out and Urías grounded to third as Sewald recorded his 29th save.
It was an impressive game for Henderson and a frustrating one for the Orioles.
“I feel like it was a pretty good one, but I would have loved to win the game,” Henderson said. “It was a good defensive team, and I was glad to help keep the team in the game.”
Note: Kyle Bradish (9-6, 3.03) will face Slade Cecconi (0-0, 2.57) on Saturday at 8:10 p.m.
Minor league update: Third baseman Coby Mayo hit a three-run home run, his eighth, to lead Triple-A Norfolk over Worcester, 4-3. Bruce Zimmermann (4-6) allowed one run on four hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out seven.
Catcher Silas Ardoin and second baseman Greg Cullen each drove in two runs as Double A-Bowie lost to Akron, 6-5. Ardoin hit his second home run.
High-A Aberdeen scored five runs in the ninth and 10th for a 7-5 win over Jersey Shore. Shortstop Frederick Bencosme and first baseman Creed Willems each drove in two runs.
Outfielders Matthew Etzel and Stiven Acevedo drove in three runs and third baseman Mac Horvath had four hits as Single-A Delmarva beat Columbia, 13-3.
Second baseman Terrin Vavra, who’s on a rehab assignment for a shoulder sprain, also drove in two runs.