When it went south for the Orioles, it went fast. A 1-0 deficit turned into a 6-0 hole within a span of five pitches in the last of the second inning. The Texas Rangers were on their way to a three-game sweep of the Orioles in the American League Division Series.
After 101 wins and an AL East championship, a team that fought so hard and so well to win the division was out of the playoffs in a span of three games and over a span of four days.
It was a strong year during the regular season for AL East teams. But in the postseason the division is now a combined 0-7 and with no teams left.
Texas beat the Orioles 7-1 for its fifth straight postseason win. It was Baltimore's eighth straight postseason loss.
They may have let the AL West division title get away to end the regular season, but the Rangers have not lost in the postseason and have taken out the O’s and Rays.
A few thoughts on the last day of the Orioles' season:
Tough day for another starter: Right-hander Dean Kremer’s first career postseason start lasted just 13 batters. He got through the first inning but needed 22 pitches and gave up Corey Seager’s solo homer to right. It was a 445-foot blast that produced Seager's 14th career postseason homer and a 1-0 lead in the first.
The second inning began with a Nathaniel Lowe flyout to left, but it was on the 15th pitch. After seven straight foul balls, Kremer finally got him out. But his pitch count was escalating fast and soon the Rangers’ run count would be too.
With two outs and men on second and third, the Orioles intentionally walked Seager. And Mitch Garver made them pay again with the bases loaded as he knocked in two on a double. Four pitches later, a three-run homer by Adolis García – his second this series – made it a 6-0 game. It happened fast. It took the air out of the balloon throughout Birdland.
Maybe the pressure got to Kremer. It was, after all, his first career postseason start. Maybe the situation involving Israel weighed too heavily on him and it was just a tough ask to expect him to throw well tonight. Maybe the Rangers are just that hot and that good right now.
Kremer pitched to a 2.89 ERA his last 10 regular-season starts, but the Rangers beat him tonight.
The three O’s starters in this series went a combined eight innings, allowing 20 hits and 13 runs.
The starters threw so well most of the second half, and the O’s team ERA was the best in the AL after the All-Star break. But Baltimore pitchers allowed 21 runs this series.
And Eovaldi had it rolling early for Texas: Nathan Eovaldi, who threw such a strong game in the Tampa Bay series for Texas, did so again tonight. And he was especially tough early on.
He went seven innings, allowing five hits and one run on 98 pitches.
He gave up a two-out single to Anthony Santander in an 11-pitch scoreless first and was at 20 pitches through two frames. After four he had a shutout on 51 pitches, throwing 41 for strikes.
In his postseason career coming into tonight, Eovaldi was 5-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. When he last faced the Orioles in 2022 with Boston, he went 1-0 with a 1.31 ERA in three games.
They saw more of the same tonight.
Henderson was good again: Back at the top of the order versus a right-handed starter, O’s shortstop Gunnar Henderson went 3-for-4 with an RBI single to get the Birds on the board in the fifth and make the score 6-1 at that point.
In this series he was 6-for-12 with a homer and two RBIs. A strong showing for the player very likely to soon be AL Rookie of the Year.
The Orioles were not swept in any of their 52 series this year, a first in O's history. And they had not been swept in their last 91 series dating to last May. But their season ends as they get swept by Texas.
And that’s a wrap on the 2023 Orioles season.
Manager Brandon Hyde, does he consider this year a success?: "How can I not? We were supposed to win 76 games. Won 101, won the American League East. Really proud of our group. They defied all the odds. Nobody gave us a chance. These guys played their butts off for six months. We just didn't play well for these last three, unfortunately. And it's definitely a successful season and these guys are going to be really good going forward."
Outfielder Cedric Mullins, this experience could help in future: “Feels like we are taking those baby steps and it kind of sucks going that way. Last year we just missed the playoffs, this year we get in there and don’t capitalize on opportunities. Next year pursuing better.
“Just that details matter (the Orioles learned). Every pitch, every at-bat. Everything matters. One of those things. Baseball sometimes does what baseball does and you don’t come out on top.”
Outfielder Austin Hays on future for this group: “Continue to grow. We grew a lot last year in the summer months. Everything about the organization turned around completely and it filtered right into this season. We were able to win our division, so going into next year that is what we are going to expect out of ourselves. Now we have turned the tables here and we expect to win. To get back here next year and make a run all the way to the end."
Hays, credit to the Rangers: “There is no other way to put it, they kicked our ass. It sucks. Just couldn’t really get anything going. Couldn’t get any momentum on our side to get things rolling. It hurts, it really hurts.
Pitcher Kyle Gibson on the year ending: “Losing always stinks. It doesn’t matter – three games, four games, seven games. Then when you do it in the postseason it stings even more. Because you can kind of taste where you want to be, right? You get into the postseason, you are one step closer to where you want to be. Anytime you come up short it is easy to focus on those failures.”
Gunnar Henderson on the series loss: "Hats off to them, they deserved it. Just looking foward to getting in this position next year and pushing through."