Fly High, Baby Bird
Gunnar Henderson (BAL): 4-5, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.
Back in May, Orioles rookie infielder Gunnar Henderson was hitting well below the Mendoza Line, looking like he might get sent back to the minors after a relatively successful stint in the big leagues late last year. Through his first 50 games of this season, Henderson was batting just .201 with only five home runs and 14 RBI while striking out over 30% of the time. Things weren’t looking so great for Henderson then. But now…
Gunnar Henderson (BAL): 4-5, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.
Since the beginning of June, Henderson has batted .268 with 15 home runs and 45 RBI over the course of 62 games entering Sunday evening’s contest. In Oakland, Henderson mashed what could have been a cycle, finishing with a home run, a triple, and two doubles (including a double in his final at-bat that he could have easily stopped at first) to lead the Orioles to a 12-1 win over the Athletics.
Henderson slapped a first-pitch fastball into the left-field corner for a double in the third inning. In the fourth, he hooked a sweeper into the right-field corner for a triple. Then in the seventh, Henderson turned on a high and tight cutter, lifting it out to right field and off the foul pole. He added an eighth-inning double for good measure as the Orioles earned a sweep of the Athletics on Sunday, capping a 6-3 road trip out west. The betting favorite for AL Rookie of the Year, Henderson has turned his season around completely and has the Orioles in prime position to host a playoff series for the first time since 2014.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday
Ryan Mountcastle (BAL): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
I’m not a homer. The Orioles just so happened to crush the Athletics on a Sunday. Mountcastle ripped the ball in each of his first three at-bats, recording exit velocities of over 100 MPH in each. In the first inning, he scorched a single through the left side. He led off the third inning with another smoked single before popping off a 439-foot home run in the fourth inning, sending the ball at a 22-degree launch angle at 112.1 MPH off the bat. Since returning from the IL (after a bout of vertigo, of all things), Mountcastle has batted .373 (38-for-102) and is riding a 26-game on-base streak, and eight-game hitting streak. He’s been the best player in the Baltimore lineup since mid-July — and that includes Henderson.
Jorge Mateo (BAL): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Yeah, I know. You’re tired of Orioles. Last one, I promise. Mateo finished with two extra-base hits, including the 26th inside-the-park home run in Orioles franchise history. The last player to hit an inside-the-park home run for the O’s was Trey Mancini… off of Josh Lowe’s face. It marked Mateo’s first multi-hit game since June 15, and his first home run since April. After starting the year batting .333 through the first month, Mateo has fallen off sharply and has lost playing time as a result.
Brandon Belt (TOR): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Belt showed that even at his age, he still has some of the fastest hands in the game. On Sunday, the veteran first baseman drove a pair of home runs off of Hunter Greene, homering on a pair of 99 MPH fastballs to help the Blue Jays defeat the Reds, 10-3. Now with five home runs in the month of August, Belt is batting .338 with a 1.136 OPS this month.
Charlie Blackmon (COL): 2-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
So it turns out Charlie Blackmon stills plays baseball. Who knew? Blackmon led off for the Rockies and was plunked in his first at-bat. He got his revenge in the fifth with a 455-foot home run and added a leadoff triple in the fifth inning. In seven games since returning from injury, Blackmon is batting .429 (9-for-21) with two home runs and two triples. Though all of his games since returning have been played at Coors Field.
Andrew Vaughn (CWS): 3-5, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Vaughn flexed on Chris Flexen, driving a middle-middle cutter deep to the bleachers in left-center field in his first at-bat of the game. He added a pair of singles as the White Sox took down the Rockies in the series finale, 10-5. It’s been a mostly disappointing season for Vaughn and the rest of the Southsiders, but with five of the ChiSox next seven series coming against Oakland, Detroit, and Kansas City, Vaughn could be a buy-low candidate late in the year.
Lenyn Sosa (CWS): 1-2, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Sosa entered the game in the sixth inning, replacing Elvis Andrus after he was ejected from the game. In the eighth inning, Sosa took a first-pitch sweeper deep to left field for a three-run home run, capping a seven-run inning for the Southside as they earned a 10-5 comeback victory. The home run was Sosa’s second of the season and his first since April 12.
Dominic Canzone (SEA): 4-5, 2 2B, R, RBI.
After getting off to a slow start since being acquired by the Mariners at the trade deadline, Canzone exploded for four hits including two doubles to lead Seattle past division rival Houston on Sunday afternoon. Canzone posted a career-high four hits and earned his first multi-hit game since July 29 as a member of the Diamondbacks when he posted two hits against the Mariners.
Anthony Volpe (NYY): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Volpe finished with a pair of hits, including his 17th home run of the season but it wasn’t enough as the Yankees fell to the Red Sox, 6-5. With two on and no outs in the seventh inning, Volpe stepped into the batter’s box representing the tying run. Volpe blasted a 1-0 sinker the opposite way for a Yankee Stadium Special, putting a 367-foot pop fly into the right-center field stands. Volpe nearly put the Yankees ahead in the eighth inning with a two-out single, but Isiah Kiner-Falefa was thrown out at home to end the inning.