CLEVELAND (AP) — Gunnar Henderson homered in his major league debut, losing his batting helmet after connecting on a drive that traveled an estimated 429 feet, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Cleveland Guardians 4-0 on Wednesday night.
Henderson, called up from Triple-A Norfolk earlier in the day, homered to lead off the fourth inning against Triston McKenzie. The game’s No. 1 prospect according to Baseball America drove a 2-2 pitch to right-center field for his first big league hit. He singled in the ninth and went 2-for-4.
Baltimore is hoping for a boost from the 21-year-old Henderson as it chases an AL wild-card spot.
Ramón Urías hit a two-run homer in the eighth and had three RBIs while Jordan Lyles (10-9) held the Guardians to four hits in 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
Henderson’s helmet fell off after as he attempted to leave the batter’s box. He looked to the sky after crossing home plate and was greeted by teammates as he headed for the dugout.
Catcher Adley Rutschman, another rookie who has helped vault the Orioles into playoff contention, hugged Henderson on the top step of the dugout and placed the Orioles’ home run chain around Henderson’s neck.
Henderson’s parents, girlfriend and other relatives exchanged hugs and high-fives as he rounded the bases.
Henderson primarily played shortstop in the minors, but the he was moved around the infield at Norfolk to increase his versatility. He played third base and batted sixth Wednesday.
Cleveland had a 1 1/2-game lead over Minnesota in the AL Central going into Wednesday. McKenzie (9-11) allowed two runs in five innings.
Lyles and two Orioles relievers combined on a five-hitter. Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth, but Luke Maile bounced into a fielder’s choice.
The Orioles forced McKenzie to…
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