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Orioles delight sellout crowd with 7-3 win over Mets behind Gunnar Henderson’s two-run homer, Kyle Gibson’s quality start

Before the game, Orioles fans at Camden Yards reveled in nostalgia. During it, they need not rely on the past for positive feelings.

After commemorating the 1983 team that won the franchise’s last World Series, rookie Gunnar Henderson, veteran Kyle Gibson and the rest of the 2023 Orioles continued playing like a club that could also compete for one.

Henderson hit a two-run homer in the first, Gibson pitched seven innings of three-run ball for his fourth straight quality start and the Orioles defeated the New York Mets, 7-3, in front of a sellout crowd.

“Man, what a time,” Gibson said after notching his 100th career win. “Anytime you can celebrate a World Series team, you get a lot of people in the stands, you already have a buzz going on. You have a lot of big names and a lot of cool people in the stands, too. A lot of baseball people that have accomplished way more in this game than we have. To have them in the building and to have so many people celebrating them just adds to it.”

Anthony Santander also homered, and Ryan O’Hearn, Ramón Urías, Ryan McKenna and Adley Rutschman delivered RBI hits to provide the rest of Baltimore’s offense. Relievers Danny Coulombe and Yennier Cano followed Gibson with scoreless innings to slam the door.

The 44,326 fans — a mix of old-timers there early for the pregame festivities, younger fans who weren’t alive to watch that 1983 club and the typical New York fans behind the third base dugout — marked Oriole Park’s third sellout this season. The last time that many fans attended a non-home opener at Camden Yards was May 20, 2017, against the Toronto Blue Jays.

“It’s fun,” Santander said of the atmosphere. “When you’re winning, it’s really cool to have those fans out there.”

The Orioles are 15-7 since the All-Star break and have won six of their past seven. With the Tampa Bay Rays’ loss to the Detroit Tigers on Saturday, Baltimore (69-42) owns a three-game lead atop the American League East standings.

“This is a really fun team,” Gibson said. “Every team I’ve been on has their special little quirks and people and aspects to it. This team is just very different than any team I’ve been on with how many young guys that are so good at this game, how many young guys that just understand how to play the game the right way.”

Approximately 20 members of the 1983 club, which defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in five games to win the organization’s third and last title, were honored on the field before the game. World Series MVP Rick Dempsey and Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray and Jim Palmer received the loudest cheers, as did those who have since died, including Mike Flanagan, Cal Ripken Sr. and Ray Miller.

“It gives you a chance to see how much it means to the fans,” Gibson said about the pregame ceremony. “It gives you a chance to see kind of what you’re working for. All those guys, I can only imagine sitting down and talking to them, you know, how much fun they get to have coming back, visiting with each other, reliving some of those moments, because we’re going to be non-baseball players a lot longer than we are baseball players in our lives. Anytime you get a chance to relive some of those moments, I can only imagine how much fun that is.”

Manager Brandon Hyde said he was glad that most of his players were in the dugout for the ceremony about 40 minutes before first pitch to experience the festivities, which included highlights on the video board, a Dempsey-led “O-R-I-O-L-E-S” chant and first pitches from Ripken, Palmer and Murray to catchers James McCann, Dempsey and Grayson Rodriguez, respectively.

“What a great atmosphere tonight,” Hyde said. “Started off with the ‘83 team and the pregame ceremony, I thought that was really well done. I know our players enjoyed watching that, so hats off to everybody that put that together as well as the guys that were here from the ‘83 team, that was super cool. And then the energy in the ballpark the entire game was fantastic. It’s fun to see that top deck in left field filled. It was super loud, we’re playing exciting baseball and our guys are feeding off it.”

Their top two picks of the 2019 draft kept the crowd excited, as Rutschman led off the bottom of the first with a single and Henderson clobbered a 3-2 changeup from Tylor Megill 422 feet to center field. The long ball was the 22-year-old’s 19th of the season — a total that ties him for second most among any Orioles rookie, behind only Trey Mancini’s 20 in 2017, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

The two hits against the Buck Showalter-led Mets were the first of 12 Saturday — the Orioles’ fifth game with 10 or more knocks among their past seven. They’re 82-for-248 at the plate — good for a .331 batting average — during that stretch and have averaged 7.14 runs per game.

“We’re passing the baton on to the next guy,” Hyde said. “That’s really the attitude right now. We are getting some big hits.”

O’Hearn singled home Santander in the third to give Gibson a 3-0 lead. After cruising through the first three frames with six strikeouts, the 35-year-old allowed a two-run home run to Jeff McNeil — just the 12th long ball he’s surrendered in 140 innings this season, his first as an Oriole. He allowed only one more run in his final three innings — a sixth-inning RBI single from McNeil — to end his night allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out nine.

“He’s competitive every five days, but I felt tonight was one of his better outings,” Hyde said.

After Urías’ RBI double in the fourth scored Jordan Westburg and Santander’s 20th homer of the season in the fifth, McKenna and Rutschman added key insurance runs with RBI doubles in the sixth and eighth, respectively. The extra support made the ninth inning a non-save situation, allowing Hyde to continue to give closer Félix Bautista rest amid his historic campaign.

The win for Gibson was his team-leading 11th this season and 100th of his 11-year career.

“It’s been a long road to get here,” Gibson said. “I told the guys after the game I think I’ve got [97] losses, so glad to get to 100 wins before 100 losses.”

Around the horn

  • Before the game, Hyde said he would feel comfortable playing shortstop Jorge Mateo in center field. He showed how much Saturday, using the speedster as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning. Mateo didn’t have a ball hit to him during his two innings. The appearance in center field was his last in the majors since 2021 with the San Diego Padres.
  • Starting pitcher Tyler Wells started for Double-A Bowie on Saturday in his first appearance since being optioned last weekend. The 28-year-old right-hander pitched three shutout innings before surrendering a solo home run and a walk in the fourth to end his night. In 3 1/3 innings, Wells allowed two hits and stuck out two. He was pulled after 53 pitches, 35 of which were strikes, as the Orioles manage his workload, hoping the trip to the farm will serve as a “reset” for a pitcher who was the club’s best in the first half but struggled mightily after the All-Star break.
  • Wells would’ve given up two homers with the Baysox if not for a familiar face doing familiar things. Center fielder Cedric Mullins began his minor league rehabilitation assignment Saturday and robbed a home run for Wells, while going 1-for-6 at the plate. Hyde said he isn’t sure when Mullins, who in mid-July was placed on the 10-day injured list for the second time this year with a right groin strain, will return. Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said last week the organization is hoping Mullins and outfielder Aaron Hicks, who hasn’t started his rehab assignment yet, will spend a large portion of August in the majors.
  • It was a busy day in Bowie, as No. 1 prospect Jackson Holliday played his second game back from an illness. He went 4-for-5 with a home run.
  • In his first outing back with Triple-A Norfolk, DL Hall struck out five and allowed one hit in two shutout innings. The left-hander spent the previous six weeks at the club’s facility in Sarasota, Florida, to focus more on strength training and less on pitching with the hopes of regaining his velocity. Hall, the organization’s top pitching prospect, averaged 93.2 mph and topped out at 94.7. On Saturday, he averaged 95.7 mph with his heater and touched 98.

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