Orioles manager Brandon Hyde calls Gunnar Henderson’s ninth-inning steal attempt a ‘miscommunication’

The Orioles appeared to have the Rangers on the ropes. Gunnar Henderson reached in the bottom of the ninth with a leadoff single, and with Jose LeClerc struggling to throw strikes to Aaron Hicks, it felt like Baltimore could be on the verge of mounting a Game 1 comeback down 3-2 to Texas in the American League Division Series.

Henderson kept looking back at the signs, and on a 2-1 count, he decided to take off with no one out in the inning. Jonah Heim, who ranks in the 89th percentile in the majors in caught stealing above average, easily threw out Henderson as the pitch to Hicks was called a ball, giving Baltimore its first out of the inning.

Manager Brandon Hyde, who looked visibly frustrated in the dugout after the caught stealing, gave a simple explanation after the game for the attempt.

“Miscommunication there,” Hyde said.

MORE: Rangers vs. Orioles ALDS schedule

Hicks wound up striking out over the next two pitches, then Adam Frazier grounded out to third to end the game, with Baltimore falling 3-2 to Texas.

For his part, Henderson is not a bad base-stealer. He was successful on 10-of-13 attempts to steal in 2023, and he ranks in the 86th percentile in sprint speed.

Still, the decision was questionable, if in fact anyone called for that to happen. LeClerc had fallen behind to Hicks 3-1 with a runner on first, and would have been put in a position where he had to throw strikes or risking pushing the tying run into scoring position with no one out. A successful stolen base attempt, though potentially putting Baltimore a single away from a tie game, also might have been a moot point if LeClerc threw a ball on the next pitch to Hicks.

MORE: Brackets, dates for ALDS, NLDS

The numbers also show the risk in attempting a stolen base in that situation. The win probability for a home team trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on first and no one out is 33.4 percent, while the win probability for a home team with one out and no one on plummets to 11.2 percent, according to FanGraphs. If the steal had been successful, the odds would have gone up to 44.4 percent for the home team.

While an 11 percent increase in win probability is significant, a 22 percent decrease in win probability is detrimental.

MORE: Hyde has asked for more in turning O’s around

The Orioles aren’t out of it yet. Losing Game 1 at home won’t help their chances, but they still have another home game on Sunday before heading to Arlington for Game 3 on Tuesday.

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