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O’s hope Gunnar Henderson continues the momentum against Rangers

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Baltimore OriolesJune 26, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson (2) rounds third base after hitting a home run during the fifth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory credit: Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

Finding offensive sparks has been a tall order for the Baltimore Orioles of late, but shortstop Gunnar Henderson continues to set the standard when all goes well.

Henderson homered in consecutive games, a streak he continues in a four-game series that begins Thursday night against the visiting Texas Rangers.

“He’s special. He’s different. He’s incredible,” Orioles designated hitter Ryan O’Hearn said of Henderson. “When he hits home runs, that’s exactly what we’re used to.”

Henderson ranks second in the Major League with 26 home runs. Until he hit a home run against the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday and Wednesday, he had not hit long balls in two consecutive games since a four-game power surge from May 17-20.

Texas and Baltimore last met when the Rangers swept the Orioles in a best-of-five American League Division Series last year. The first two games of that series were in Baltimore.

The Orioles beat the Cleveland Guardians 4-2 on Wednesday night to end a season-high five-game losing streak. Getting back on track and avoiding getting sucked into back-to-back series has been good for the Orioles’ psyche.

“It’s huge,” midfielder Cedric Mullins said. “Just in the middle of where we are right now in the schedule. Some guys are beat up, some guys are tired, but it’s just a matter of being able to persevere.”

Manager Brandon Hyde said he hopes the win pulls the Orioles out of a funk that was largely due to inconsistent offensive production.

“It’s been a bit of a rough road for us,” Hyde said.

The Rangers have lost eight of their past 12 games after being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers this week. The last of those defeats came on Wednesday afternoon, a 6-5 setback in 10 innings.

“We were in all three games,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You can look at a lot of things.”

Texas had 10 hits, including back-to-back home runs from Nathaniel Lowe and Jonah Heim, in their last loss. The Rangers have a .237 team batting average.

“We were swinging the bats better, and that’s always a good sign,” Bochy said.

Baltimore is 26-16 in home games. The Rangers have lost six straight road games, leaving their mark on Arlington at 17-24.

“You keep grinding. You don’t have a choice,” Bochy said. “If you go to Baltimore, you have to go after it. It doesn’t get any easier.”

The Orioles indeed send right-hander Corbin Burnes (8-3, 2.35 ERA) to the mound in the series opener. He is Baltimore’s ace, even though his personal five-game winning streak ended on the road against the Houston Astros on Saturday. He allowed four runs in seven innings.

Burnes, who is in his first year with the Orioles after six seasons with Milwaukee, has appeared in 183 major league games in his career, none of them against the Rangers.

Jon Gray (3-3, 3.03) gets the call as Texas’ starting pitcher. The right-hander tried to duplicate his last outing when he blanked the Kansas City Royals for six innings on Saturday. He rebounded well after being coached for nine runs in three-plus innings by the New York Mets on June 17.

Gray is 2-2 with a 2.91 ERA in four career starts against the Orioles.

–Field level media