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Henderson's 18th homer was a grand slam, and it happened because McCann finally drew a walk

Baltimore Orioles' Gunnar Henderson watches his grand slam against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Gunnar Henderson made Boston pay for a very ill-timed walk.

Henderson hit a grand slam in the second inning — after Kutter Crawford walked James McCann to load the bases — and the Baltimore Orioles went on to beat the Red Sox 6-1 on Wednesday night. It was Henderson's 18th home run of the year, tying Houston's Kyle Tucker for the big league lead.

“Credit to the guys in front of me,” Henderson said. “And then Mac for drawing that walk to put me in that situation.”

The game was tied at 1 when McCann, hitting .203 at the time, came to the plate with two on and two out. The walk was his first of the season — in his 81st plate appearance.

“The walk to McCann. That's the one, right?” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Then we're facing one of the best hitters in the big leagues and he got a sweeper up in the zone and put a good swing on it.”

As Baltimore's leadoff hitter, Henderson relies on the bottom of the order to create RBI opportunities for him. Ramón Urías, the No. 8 hitter Wednesday, entered hitting .194 but reached base all three times up. He hit a single immediately before McCann's walk.

Urías also hit a solo homer in the seventh.

The 22-year-old Henderson won American League Rookie of the Year honors last year, and he's emerged as an early MVP candidate this season. He's already hit five leadoff homers this year, tied with Philadelphia's Kyle Schwarber for the major league lead.

Henderson easily leads all of baseball this year with 11 home runs leading off a half-inning, but those are obviously only worth one run. On Wednesday he had a chance to do a lot more damage — and delivered with his second career grand slam.

“The McCann walk led to the Gunnar grand slam,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We're celebrating a walk inside the clubhouse.”

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb