Without Bautista, Orioles need new closer; Team records 101st win, 5-2 over Red Sox - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Without Bautista, Orioles need new closer; Team records 101st win, 5-2 over Red Sox

Photo Credit: Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

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BALTIMORE—The Orioles know they’ll be without Félix Bautista for the postseason and the 2024 season after their star closer has Tommy John surgery next month.

Manager Brandon Hyde said nothing has changed since August 26th, the day after Bautista was injured.

“I’m going to continue to do what I’m doing,” Hyde said.

Yennier Cano has recorded four saves in Bautista’s absence. Cionel Pérez has two. Shintaro Fujinami and Tyler Wells, who closed out the American League East clincher on Thursday, have one each.

Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias knows the Orioles will have to resolve the closer problem for 2024, but that’s a concern for another day.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about that in the back of my mind,” Elias said. “We’re so focused about preparing for the playoffs, it’s not something we’ve had meetings about or starting to look at that stuff. We’re laser focused on this playoff run.”

The Orioles could always go for a free-agent closer on a one- or two-year contract, or they could stay in house with Cano, DL Hall or Wells, who closed in 2021 before he started in 2022 and the first four months of this season.

“I had no thought about it for 2024. He’s proven,” Elias said about Wells. “This guy’s almost an All-Star starter in the first half. Obviously, he hit a wall. He was not himself in the second half. To take a starter and turn him into a reliever is usually something we spend time talking about and planning. He’s going to be in the bullpen for the playoffs.

“I don’t want to speak for Brandon, but he is a closing option in the playoffs as he proved the other night, and he proved in 2021. We’ve got other guys, too … This is going to be pretty matchup and availability driven. It’s a lot different when you have the best closer in the game on the top of his game. You kind of build your bullpen around that, and we don’t have that anymore.”

The Orioles also have left-hander Danny Coulombe, who recorded the third strike for a save after Bautista was injured, and Jacob Webb, and maybe some familiar names who’ve been starting.

“What we do have is a lot of talented pitchers and some guys that are equipped to be starting pitchers that, because of the playoff format, will be in our bullpen,” Elias said. “It’s going to be nice because we have a lot of healthy starting-caliber pitchers up and running right now on the team, and that’s something we’re going to try to lean into in the playoffs.”

Bautista, who will have surgery in the first or second week of October, will be with the team for what he hopes are more postseason toasts.

“He deserves it,” Hyde said. “He’s a huge reason we were celebrating. Enormous reason why we’re celebrating.”

Orioles win 101st: The Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox, 5-2, before a sellout crowd of 43,150 at Camden Yards on Saturday night.

Kyle Gibson started and pitched five scoreless innings, allowing seven hits. Bruce Zimmermann (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings.

The Orioles (101-60) scored two runs in the seventh on an RBI double by Ryan Mountcastle and an infield single by Heston Kjerstad that scored Mountcastle from second.

In the eighth, Jorge Mateo’s fielder’s choice and Anthony Santander’s two-run single gave the Orioles a 5-1 lead.

The 101 wins are the most by the team since they won 102 in 1979.

“I want our guys to understand how great of an accomplishment that is,” Hyde said. “I think we won every season series against the AL East, an incredible accomplishment as well with all the talent and how good the teams are in our division. It means we won a lot of series, and our guys came to play. That’s very, very tough to do.”

In 2019, Gibson played on the Minnesota Twins, who were 101-61.

“It’s rare,” Gibson said. “It doesn’t happen often. Maybe two teams a year. I think it’s special for these young guys to experience it early on and know the work that goes into it and having some fun doing it.”

Hyde, who managed in front of small crowds in his early years, has been impressed by crowd support. The season attendance is 1,900,138.

“That was an awesome crowd, a ton of energy. I wish we could have scored some runs early to get them going a little bit. They did. It was loud. They were into it … The buzz in the crowd just brings energy to your team. Hopefully, the crowds continue to build. This place will be loud during the playoffs.”

Notes: Kyle Bradish (12-7, 2.86) will start against Tanner Houck (5-10, 5.31) on Sunday at 3:05 P.M. in the final regular-season game. “I’m not sure how far he’s going to go.” Hyde said. “A lot of guys will throw tomorrow.” … The Orioles have recorded six sellouts. … Gunnar Henderson’s eighth-inning double was his 66th extra-base hit, passing Cal Ripken Jr. for most extra-base hits by an Oriole rookie.

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