Orioles fans had waited for their first home playoff game since the 2014 season. The rain that lingered made the wait even longer. But when they got their chance to cheer, it was loud. It was almost deafening at times amid a sea of orange Saturday afternoon at Oriole Park.
The Orioles fans put on a spectacular show. It was electric and special.
But the O's offense had its issues - a carryover from the end of the regular season - as they lost 3-2 to Texas in the AL Division Series opener.
“It was unbelievable, it was a dream come true to run out there with orange flags being waved everywhere," outfielder Austin Hays said. "An awesome experience. It was electric, loudest ballpark I’ve ever been in. Louder than the All-Star game. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for sure. So I am looking forward to doing it again (today)."
Ryan Mountcastle doubled in the first Baltimore run in the fourth but the Orioles never got the lead or tied the game once Texas scored twice in the top of the fourth.
The Orioles, resilient all year, now face their latest challenge today.
“Yeah, yeah. We’ve battled all year and it's going to be a long series. Five games," said Mountcastle. "I think (Sunday) we come back and hopefully we can put together a good game.
“It was awesome. Super electric, super exciting. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win today but the fans were great and it was a great atmosphere. It was fun playing today, lot of emotions.”
The Orioles were held to just five hits and went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. So they have now scored only 10 runs in the last five games and 34 the past 12, scoring two or less eight times in that span.
The bats need to get going quickly in this best-of-five series.
“Coming up in big moments, it can’t happen every time. Prepare for tomorrow and try to execute then," Cedric Mullins said in the quiet of the postgame clubhouse.
A loss in the opener just means more work to do in this series.
“I was just thinking it’s not the first time we lost the first game of a series but came out on top. Stay positive. Learn from this and be prepared for (today)," said Mullins.
Right-hander Kyle Bradish allowed two runs and seven hits over 4 2/3 innings. It was his shortest start since early August not counting the two-inning tuneup he pitched in Game 162 last Sunday.
Bradish backed his manager Brandon Hyde for pulling him in the fifth. There was a man on first and two outs with rookie Evan Carter coming up. To that point he was 4-for-5 in the postseason with four extra-base hits and four walks, reaching base in nine of 10 plate appearances.
"I completely agree with that decision right there," Bradish said. "Bring in Danny (Coulombe), he's been great for us all year. So, I mean he (Carter) had a double off me and a walk so I completely understand it."
Now it's bounce-back time in Birdland.
“Do what we have done all year," Bradish said. "We don’t get too down. It is postseason so a loss is a little harder but come back tomorrow and even up the series.”
Bradish yesterday became the third player in O's history to strike out at least nine in their postseason debut. Mike Boddicker fanned 14 Chicago White Sox on Oct. 6, 1983, and Moe Drabowsky fanned 11 Los Angeles Dodgers in relief in Game 1 of the 1966 World Series.
Missing Means in this series: O's lefty John Means, who pitched so well in September, is not on the O's roster for the ALDS. He felt some elbow soreness after a Thursday sim game and, coming off Tommy John surgery, the Orioles are taking no chances.
Hyde expressed optimism he could pitch in the AL Championship Series if the Orioles get there.
Means pitched to an ERA of 2.66 with a WHIP of 0.718 in four starts last month. It's a huge disappointment he will miss this series, no doubt for him, the rotation and the Orioles.
“Guy that worked really hard to get back," said his rotation mate Kyle Gibson. "To get back and to be throwing so well, it stinks for him and it stinks for us. He’s been throwing well and you can always use a veteran presence like that starting a game and really setting the tone early in the game.
“Overall I think he is in a pretty good mind space. It’s tough and not ideal. But overall, he’s in a pretty good spot. He’s just gotta keep doing the rehab and hopefully gets back for the next series.”
Gibson said he is confident the Orioles can get right back to winning today, based on what he has seen from this team all year.
“Up until the very last out was made, we thought we were going to win that game. We have a lot of confidence in close games, we have a lot of confidence in every single person in here. We don’t normally dwell on losses too much. We don’t dwell on tough breaks and stuff like that. I think that allows this young team being so mentally wise beyond their years and a good chance to bounce back really well," he said.
In Game 2 today at 4:07 p.m., righty Grayson Rodriguez (7-4, 4.35 ERA) faces lefty Jordan Mongomery (10-11, 3.20 ERA).