April 19, 2024

BALTIMORE — Orioles manager Brandon Hyde called Gunnar Henderson‘s caught stealing in the bottom of the ninth inning “a little miscommunication.”

With the Orioles trailing 3-2 in Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Rangers, Henderson led off the inning with a base hit to right field off Texas closer Jose Leclerc. With the count 2-1 on Aaron Hicks, Henderson took off for second. Hicks took the pitch for a ball, but catcher Jonah Heim threw out Henderson.

Leclerc then struck out Hicks and got Adam Frazier on a grounder to third for the final two outs. Television replays showed Hyde saying, “What the f—” in the dugout.

Henderson told reporters after the game that he saw a steal sign.

Henderson was 10-for-13 stealing bases during the regular season, but an attempt at that time certainly was unusual. The Orioles stole just one base all season in the ninth inning while trailing. Heim was also one of the best throwing catchers in the majors, ranking in the 89th percentile in caught-stealing rate.

According to FanGraphs’ win expectancy, the Orioles’ chances went from 33% before the stolen base attempt to 11% after Henderson was caught.

“That changed the momentum,” said Rangers third baseman Josh Jung, who homered and started a crucial 5-4-3 double play in the eighth inning with a nice defensive play with two runners on and nobody out.

Heim, who also knocked in a run with an RBI single, laughed that “I kind of blacked out” on the steal attempt.

“I’m kind of mad [the umpire] called it a ball, but I guess it all worked out in the end.”

Heim had thrown down to first base earlier in the count.

“He was getting a big lead. I saw that secondary lead, just trying to shorten him up a little bit if there was a ball in the gap. We know they like to run and [Leclerc] gave me a good pitch to throw on.”

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