MLB: Orioles desire to keep Athletics’ Mason Miller in bullpen

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The highly anticipated head-to-head of 2023 rookie stars Gunnar Henderson and Mason Miller failed to materialize Friday night, making it the marquee potential matchup once again when the Baltimore Orioles and host Oakland Athletics continue their three-game series Saturday afternoon.

Henderson got the ball rolling in a positive direction for the Orioles in the series opener, singling and scoring in the first inning to help send the visitors to a hard-fought, 3-2 victory.

Nothing has come easy for the American League East-leading Orioles against the last-place team in the AL West, with Oakland having won two of three in Baltimore in April. The Orioles would have to sweep this three-game set in order to win the season series.

Henderson and Miller, who have developed into two of the best young players in baseball, dueled for the first and only time as the last batter of the game in Oakland’s 3-2, 10-inning win at Baltimore on April 26 in the clubs’ first meeting of the season.

With a runner at third and two outs, Miller needed just three pitches to take down Henderson, who swung at and missed each offering.

Miller was preparing to pitch the top of the ninth Friday had Oakland rallied into a tie in the eighth. But Orioles set-up man Yennier Cano stranded the potential tying run at third base by striking out Miguel Andujar and then getting Brent Rooker on a grounder to third.

A’s manager Mark Kotsay opted to save Miller for another day at that point, then was happy to see Scott Alexander complete an impressive outing by the Oakland bullpen even without its anchor. Four A’s relievers shut out the Orioles on three hits over the final four innings.

In the end, Kotsay noted, better defense early on might have made a difference in what could have been his team’s fourth straight win.

“We’ve been playing really good defense,” he observed. “To see a three-error night cost us runs, cost us extra bases. … Overall a sloppy game, but we kept it competitive, and to have a chance to tie it in the eighth really says something about the job the bullpen did.”

Tasked with keeping the A’s in the game Saturday, and perhaps setting up the dream Henderson-Miller showdown, will be right-hander Luis Medina (1-3, 4.80 ERA). The 25-year-old is coming off one of the best outings of his career, limiting the Arizona Diamondbacks to one run and four hits in six innings in a 5-1 road defeat.

Medina faced the Orioles once in relief last season, allowing three earned runs in three innings in a 9-4 home loss in August.

Another guy riding the momentum of an impressive effort, left-hander Cade Povich (1-2, 4.05), is scheduled to get the ball for the Orioles. The 24-year-old recorded his first big-league win in his last start in a 6-5 home victory over the Texas Rangers, allowing two runs and five hits in five innings.

Povich has made five major league appearances, all starts, none against the A’s.

The Orioles’ win Friday came on Austin Hays’ 29th birthday and he celebrated it with three hits.

This weekend, the attention turns to manager Brandon Hyde’s San Francisco Bay Area homecoming and likelihood he’ll be managing his final two games in Oakland with the Athletics set to play elsewhere in 2025.

“It’s a little sad,” admitted the native of Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco. “There was some really good baseball being played here for a long time, and some great, great teams that played here.”

Friday’s win evened Hyde’s lifetime record managing in Oakland at 7-7.

–Field Level Media

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