Ryan Mountcastle slugged his 29th home run of the 2021 season in the sixth inning in a 3-2 victory against the Yankees Sept. 16, which is the most by a rookie in a single season in club history, surpassing Cal Ripken Jr.’s previous record of 28 homers set in 1982.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Mountcastle said. “I would have never thought that I would have done that, to be honest, and it means a lot and a really cool accomplishment. Most of my family were Orioles fans and all their favorite players were Cal Ripken, so I knew a lot about him.
“I knew he was a great player, a great shortstop here. It’s pretty crazy. Just to be in the same company as him is really cool.”
Mountcastle, 24, leads the club with homers and is one behind Texas’ Adolis Garcia for the rookie lead. Of Mountcastle’s 29 home runs this year, 21 have been solo shots, including 16 of his past 18, but he is still tied with Garcia with 81 RBIs.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment for a young player,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Anytime you’re passing somebody like Cal Ripken Jr., you’re doing something very, very special. And Ryan’s had a special season. A great rookie year.”
Orioles third baseman Kelvin Gutiérrez has gotten progressively better as an infielder and hitter since being acquired from the Kansas City Royals.
On Sept. 16 against the Yankees, Gutiérrez scored from third base on a wild pitch in the ninth inning to tie the game at two. That marked his second career appearance as a pinch-runner, his first since last September with Kansas City, and showed his versatility with the team.
Gutiérrez, 27, has been a mainstay at third base and he will perhaps get an opportunity to compete for the job again in 2022. Overall, Gutiérrez needs to improve with the bat — he’s hitting .181 in 94 plate appearances with Baltimore — and needs to get the ball out of his glove faster on defense, but Hyde likes his potential.
Meanwhile, Jahmai Jones was sent back down to Triple-A Norfolk after some struggles with the big-league club. He also had some challenges defensively as he got acclimated to the speed of the game.
Jones, 24, batted just .164 with three RBIs in 18 games. He also made three errors. He hadn’t started since Sept. 11.
Jones’ demotion leaves the Orioles with Richie Martin, Ramón Urías and Pat Valaika to play shortstop and second base for the rest of the season. Infielder Jorge Mateo (right lumbar inflammation) was placed on the 60-day injured list Sept. 14.
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