BALTIMORE—It’s been nine years since Oriole fans had a postseason game to cheer about. They just wished they had more to cheer about.
The Orioles had just five hits and didn’t convert on a key eighth-inning opportunity and lost the first game of the best-of-five Division Series to the Texas Rangers, 3-2, before a packed house of 46,450 at Camden Yards on Saturday.
The fans waited out a 73-minute delay and saw Oriole pitchers strike out 16, but the offense just didn’t produce against six Rangers pitchers.
“This is a tough team to beat if you score two runs,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We didn’t have the offense today. We didn’t create traffic.”
Oriole starter Kyle Bradish allowed two baserunners in the first three innings — a one-out double to Robbie Grossman in the first and a leadoff walk to Evan Carter in second. Bradish struck out five in his first two postseason innings.
“It felt different when I was walking out there to warm up,” Bradish said. “Everybody got loud when I got out there.”
In the fourth, Bradish gave up two runs on five hits and left the bases loaded.
Adolis Garcia and Even Carter hit back-to-back doubles, and Jonah Heim’s single scored Carter for a 2-0 lead. Texas loaded the bases on a one-out single by Nathaniel Lowe and a two-out single by Leody Taveras. Bradish struck out Marcus Semien to end the inning.
Bradish (0-1) was removed after Corey Seager singled, and Grossman and Garcia struck out. Oriole relief pitcher Danny Coulombe walked Carter but then got Heim to hit into a forceout to end the fifth.
In 4 2/3 innings, Bradish allowed two runs on seven hits, striking out nine and walking one.
“Frustrating outing. I had two hard-hit balls,” Bradish said. “Left a few balls close to the plate that they hit for ground balls that found holes. It’s a good hitting team. That’s what they do.”
Texas manager Bruce Bochy waited until Friday night to decide on a starter, and he removed left-hander Andrew Heaney for Dane Dunning (1-0) with two outs in the fourth.
Anthony Santander’s two-out single in the first was the only Oriole baserunner in the first three innings.
“I think we came out pretty solid today,” centerfielder Cedric Mullins said. “We came out with a lot of energy, ready to go. I had a string of good swings, just not a string of hits. I think that was our biggest issue today.”
Santander walked with one out in the fourth and scored on Ryan Mountcastle’s double to left. After Gunnar Henderson popped to short, Dunning replaced Heaney and walked Aaron Hicks. Pinch-hitter Adam Frazier popped to first, ending the fourth.
“We had some opportunities early to score some runs,” Henderson said. “Didn’t come through. That’s just how it goes sometimes.”
With one out in the sixth, Hyde brought in Jacob Webb and Josh Jung homered for a 3-1 lead.
Santander homered with one out in the sixth against Dunning to cut the lead to 3-2.
Hicks walked to begin the seventh against Josh Sborz. Ryan O’Hearn hit for third baseman Ramón Urías, but he was called out looking. O’Hearn ended the regular season hitless in 23 at-bats.
Austin Hays, who made a brilliant play in left on Jonah Heim’s liner to end the seventh, walked against Texas reliever Aroldis Chapman to begin the bottom of the eighth. He moved to second on a wild pitch. Adley Rutschman walked to put runners on first and second with none out. But Santander hit into a double play, and Mountcastle struck out to end the eighth.
“We’d get a couple of guys on … just needed that one more big hit to get things rolling,” Hays said. “Didn’t get that today.”
Henderson led off the ninth with a single to right against José Lecler but was out thrown out by Heim trying to steal second. Hicks struck out and Frazier grounded out softly to third to end the game.
“We had something going there,” Henderson said about the steal attempt. “I thought it was a good time to take it. Didn’t happen. Hate that it didn’t happen, but it did.”
Henderson said it was Hyde’s call to run.
“A little miscommunication there,” Hyde said.
The Orioles weren’t swept in a series all season, and that gives Hays faith in his team.
“We’ve had plenty of series where we lost the first game, the first two games,” Hays said. “We answer the bell the next day. Nothing new here. We dropped a game today but turn around. We got them again tomorrow.
“You just can’t look too far ahead. We’ve got one game tomorrow. Come back, get a win, and then we’re right back in the series. It’s one game to one. We’re right where we want to be. Just keep our eyes set on that one game tomorrow.”
It was Rutschman’s first postseason game, and he tried not to deviate from his regular-season approach.
“Our process from a hitting standpoint has always been the same. It’s going to continue to be the same,” he said. “From a pitching standpoint, the way we do things, our routine, it’s going to continue to stay the same. I think that comes with doing all the right things during the course of the year, so when you get to this point, you don’t have to change anything, and I think if you’re a playoff-caliber team, that’s how you have to treat the regular season, so that you’re ready for these moments right now.”
Notes: The 16 strikeouts were the most in a nine-inning Orioles postseason game. … Santander’s home run was the 100th in Orioles postseason history. … Game 2 pitchers are scheduled to be Grayson Rodriguez and Jordan Montgomery. Game time is 4:07 p.m. It will be shown on FoxSports1.