BALTIMORE -- Rookie sensation Gunnar Henderson cranked a dramatic two-run homer to put the Orioles ahead of the beleaguered Rockies with just three outs to go on a muggy Friday night at Camden Yards.
The home crowd rose in anticipation as the AL’s best closer stepped to the hill.
Henderson’s 22nd homer of the year off Rockies reliever Brent Suter had lifted the Orioles to a one-run lead before All-Star right-hander Félix Bautista quickly dispatched pinch-hitters Jurickson Profar and Harold Castro to come within one out of his 34th save.
But when Bautista fired a two-strike 102.3 mph fastball high and outside to pinch-hitter Michael Toglia, the right-hander spun around and stumbled a bit on the front of the mound.
Manager Brandon Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel quickly came to the mound, and after a short discussion, Bautista left the game.
Reliever Danny Coulombe struck out Toglia on the next pitch to secure a 5-4 Orioles victory -- their 80th of the season -- but everyone's thoughts postgame were focused on the condition of their dominant closer.
"Bautista left the game with some arm discomfort,” Hyde said postgame. “He is still being checked out. I'm not going to discuss it any further than that. We are going to get a bunch of tests and see how it is.
"When the best closer in the game leaves the game, that's never a good feeling. Hopefully he's OK tomorrow."
Down 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Henderson got a hold of a Suter slider and drilled the two-run blast over the right-field wall to push the Orioles’ lead to three games over the Rays for first place in the AL East.
"It was really awesome,” Henderson said. “I was really happy to be able to help the team come back and play like that. It's what you dream of as a kid is to hit a homer like that. It was pretty cool."
Added Hyde: “On a night where we didn't have our best offensive approach, I thought with Gunnar getting a huge hit there, we needed it."
Bautista was last on the injured list late in the 2022 season with left knee discomfort, and he was coming off a 1-2-3 save Thursday night in a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays.
"I just hope that it's nothing serious,” Henderson said. “Hopefully it's just like day to day. I don't know what it was or any details or anything. I hope he's OK and hope he gets better soon."
"He's been our closer all year,” said starter Cole Irvin, who allowed four runs over six innings. “He's been electric for us. I know the fans love us. You want one of your best guys to still be pitching for you. Hopefully it's nothing negative and maybe just needs a little bit of time.
“[I] don't know what's going to happen, don't know what to expect. Just praying for him. That's the biggest thing and all we can do right now. He's been huge for us. Honestly, he'd have my Cy Young vote. He's been that good. It's been a ton of fun to have him. Hopefully he comes back solid."