ALDS Game 3 notes with Adley Rutschman, Austin Hays and Nate Eovaldi

ARLINGTON, Texas – Some games are called “must win” but they really are not. But you can use those words for the Orioles tonight. After an amazing season, a surprise (to many) AL East championship and 101 wins, they need one more tonight to force a Game 4 against Texas in the American League Division Series.

In September the Orioles twice lost the first two games of key four-game series, both at home versus Tampa Bay and at Cleveland, and yet won the third and fourth games to split those series. This time they have to do that and one better.

It started on the mound in those earlier games against the Rays and Guardians. In the four wins, O’s pitching allowed zero, four, one and one run.

Catcher Adley Rutschman was asked before Monday’s workout at Globe Life Field about the club’s ability this year to put losses behind them quickly and how they do that?

“I think our team is really process-oriented,” said Rutschman. “So, each game is a new game, and we try to treat it as such. And you know, learn from anything from the day before and then move on. Our guys do a good job of banding together and trying to just focus on the here and now.”

Several players expressed confidence in the offense after the Orioles scored eight runs Sunday and six in the last six innings. They hope the offense finally got going and generated some momentum that carries into tonight.

“Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t (carry into the next game),” said Rutschman. “I think for us, as far as hitting goes, it’s about controlling the strike zone and finding a good pitch to hit. Then try to get your best swing off. I think that part of it is sometimes contagious. So, we try to string together the best at-bats you can, and our guys definitely feed off one another.”

When Rutschman was interviewed, reporters did not yet know that right-hander Dean Kremer would start tonight. But he will get the ball. Rutschman was asked about his confidence in both Kremer and Kyle Gibson - both were candidates to pitch tonight.

“I have all the confidence in the world in our pitching staff and in both of those guys,” he said.

Hays on turning the page: Turn the page, flip the script. Use any cliché you want, the O’s have to do it tonight. And then for two more games against a Texas club that is 4-0 in the playoffs outscoring its opponents, 25-11.

Hays felt that during the season the O’s did a good job at turning the page. He feels it’s a trait in this organization that goes beyond the big league club.

“Focusing on winning and focusing on what we need to do to win, it kind of takes away the selfish part of the game,” said Hays. “Where you are worrying about your stats or what you are personally doing. How things are going for you. Not getting too caught up in that and focusing on what you need to do as a teammate and as player for this organization and as a player for (manager Brandon) Hyde. What do you need to do to win the game? I think they preach that in the minor leagues too, so you see that with a lot of the young guys that come up too. It’s just kind of the culture here. It’s a byproduct of three of four different things.”

Former AL East pitcher against the O’s tonight: The Orioles will face right-hander Nate Eovaldi, who was with Boston from 2018-2022 in Game 3. And yes, that seems like another tough challenge for the team. Eovaldi has a career 3.23 ERA in 18 games against the Orioles and he is coming off an outstanding start in Game 2 of the wild-card round versus Tampa Bay.

After ending the year with some big struggles – his ERA was 9.18 with an OPS against of .928 his last four regular-season starts – he got it together and rolled against Tampa Bay. He gave up one run over 6 2/3 innings, getting the win in their Game 2 clincher.

Over his last eight regular-season games, Eovaldi had a 7.11 ERA, allowed seven homers in 31 2/3 innings and gave up an .869 OPS against. He was on the injured list dealing a right forearm strain from late July until Sept. 5. 

What was better or different from his late-year struggles when he beat the Rays?

“I feel like my fastball command was a lot better compared to the outings before that,” Eovaldi said in the interview room before Game 2 at Camden Yards. “And I had my curveball working really well. If my fastball command is working, then my splitter goes along with that. I think with those three pitches, I was - with Jonah (Heim) back there behind the plate calling a great game - we were able to navigate our way through the lineup.”

And now his next challenge is facing the Orioles. What strikes him about the Baltimore lineup?

“There's a lot of things. I feel like with every team in general coming down to this point, they're going to have power, they're going to have the speed, they're going to be able to work at-bats. I think this team is aggressive on the base paths. They have the speed. Again, it comes down to executing my pitches and trying to stay in the game as long as possible.”

The playoff atmosphere was fantastic in Baltimore this weekend and now the scene shifts to Texas. The Rangers have not played a home game since Sept. 24. They basically have been a two-week road trip between the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason.

“The atmosphere here in Baltimore was amazing. The fans have been electric,” said Eovaldi. “But I think we're all really excited to get home and have that playoff game, the first one since 2016, back home. And we feed off of our fans. We feed off of them here. I always say when you're here and pitching, you want to keep the crowd out of the game. But when we get home after that two weeks being on the road, it's going to be fun to have that crowd.”

The Rangers pitching staff did allow eight runs to the Orioles Sunday. But their pitchers gave up just three runs in their first three playoff wins.

“I mean for me I've been saying it all year, pitching wins championships, and if we can go out and pitch really well, we'll give ourselves a really good chance to win the ball games,” said Eovaldi. “Our offense is unbelievable. Any time we can put up some runs early in the game, we feel like it's our job to be able to shut it down.

“And again, it goes hand in hand. When the starter is able to go deep in the game, it gives us a chance for the bullpen to come in late and do their job,” he said.

Eovaldi is 5-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 12 career playoff games, seven starts and all with Boston until his outing recently against the Rays. 

Minor league note: O's young catching prospect Samuel Basallo was named South Atlantic League Player of the Month for September. With High-A Aberdeen, before a late-year move to Double-A Bowie, he batted .538/.636/.1.385/2.021, just crazy numbers, with six homers in seven games in the month for the IronBirds.

Aberdeen right-handed pitcher Juan Nunez was named SAL Pitcher of the Month for September. He gave up just one earned run in nine innings with eight strikeouts during the month. 



Orioles and Rangers Game 3 lineups
Lots of reflection as Orioles approach Game 3

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to