BALTIMORE—Suddenly, these are desperate times for the Orioles. On Saturday afternoon, the large crowd at Camden Yards was full of enthusiasm. Now after two losses, Oriole fans are full of worry.
All season long, the Orioles haven’t been swept in a series. In fact, they haven’t been swept in 91 consecutive series, dating back to May 2022. But if they don’t win Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday night in Arlington, Texas, their 101-win regular season may be remembered less than a three-game sweep by the Texas Rangers.
Teams that lose the first two games of a best-of-five series are 10-78 in series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
In Game 1, the Orioles got only five hits in a 3-2 loss. In Game 2, Oriole starter Grayson Rodriguez allowed five runs in the second inning. Jacob Webb gave up a grand slam to Mitch Garver, after Bryan Baker had loaded the bases with three walks, in the third in an 11-8 loss before 46,475 on Sunday at Camden Yards.
The 11 runs allowed were the most in the Orioles’ postseason history.
“We were very confident we were going to win the first two at home,” leftfielder Austin Hays said. “It’s just not how the cards played out. Now, we’ve got to win three in a row.”
Manager Brandon Hyde hasn’t named a starter to face the Rangers’ Nathan Eovaldi, who’s 8-2 against the Orioles, in Game 3. It will be either Kyle Gibson, who led the team in wins and innings and warmed up in the ninth inning, or Dean Kremer. Unless they win on Tuesday night and again on Wednesday, there won’t be any more baseball in Baltimore until late March 2024.
In his first postseason start, Rodriguez (0-1) loaded the bases in the first inning before becoming unglued in the second. In 1 2/3 innings, his shortest start of his rookie season, Rodriguez allowed five runs on six hits, walking four.
It was the shortest postseason start for the Orioles since Dennis Martinez threw 1 1/3 innings in Game 4 of the 1979 World Series.
A game after they struck out 16 batters, Rodriguez, Baker and Jack Flaherty combined to walk 11, a season high. Rangers shortstop Corey Seager walked five times, a postseason record.
“Our backs are against the wall right now and tonight wasn’t our best night on the mound,” Hyde said.
One play stood out in Rodriguez’s abbreviated start.
Leody Taveras had hit a two-run double to tie it at 2, and Garver’s tapper to Rodriguez was fielded by him and lobbed to first, allowing Garver to reach and Josh Jung to score.
“It’s a good lineup,” Rodriguez said. “They’ve got good hitters all the way down. They’ve just been very good at situational hitting. They did a good job taking the ball to the opposite field today and just working good counts.”
Adolis Garcia and Jonah Heim singled, ending Rodriguez’s shortest start of the season.
“Really just kind of struggled to get into a groove,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously spraying fastballs and not being able to have that in the zone consistently wasn’t working for me.”
In the bottom of the first, Rangers starter Jordan Montgomery loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. Aaron Hicks, who missed a hit-and-run sign in the ninth on Saturday that led to Gunnar Henderson being thrown out at second, singled to right scoring Ryan Mountcastle and Henderson to give Orioles a 2-0 lead. Henderson’s headfirst slide home eluded the tag of Heim.
Baker, who was added to the postseason roster after John Means reported elbow soreness, walked the bases loaded with one out in the third. Webb gave up a grand slam to Garver, and it was 9-2.
Shortstop Jorge Mateo’s RBI single and Mountcastle’s sacrifice fly to right cut Texas’ lead to 9-4. Mateo had four hits.
“I felt good up there at the plate,” Mateo said through a translator. “Just taking advantage of those opportunities. Obviously, it was a rough day for the team. Still going to have plenty of opportunities going forward.”
Taveras scored when Garver hit into a double play in the fifth, and Texas led, 10-4.
“I have a ton of confidence in our bullpen and our starting pitching,” Hays said. “I think they’re going to pitch great the next three games.”
Henderson homered in the fifth to reduce the Rangers lead to 10-5. Montgomery, who had started 16 times against the Orioles when he was with the Yankees, allowed five runs, four earned, in four-plus innings.
“I think you can see how the guys swung it tonight,” Rodriguez said. “There’s really no quit in this team. The offense has had success all year, and that’s what I think they can do here coming up.”
The Rangers’ Cody Bradford (1-0) pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
Hyde used seven relievers. The final one, Yennier Cano, allowed a run in the ninth to make it 11-5.
Hicks gave the fans one more glimmer of hope when he hit a three-run home run off Rangers closer José Leclerc with one out in the ninth.
“We scored eight runs today. We’re going to just keep trying to push the envelope,” Hicks said. “That’s about all we can do.”
Notes: Mateo’s four hits are the most by an Oriole in a postseason game since Kiko Garcia in Game 3 of the 1979 World Series. … Mountcastle made two outstanding picks at first, scooping an wild throw by Rodriguez and a low throw from Henderson on a double play. … The Orioles have lost their last seven postseason games dating back to the 2014 American League Championship Series when they were swept in four games by Kansas City. … Henderson became the third Oriole rookie to homer in the postseason. Manny Machado and Ryan Flaherty, both in 2012, were the others. … The Orioles and Rangers will work out at Globe Life Field on Monday. Game time for Tuesday’s Game 3 is 8:03 p.m. FoxSports1 will televise the game.