Hey, Birdland: Sometimes you just get beat

Since Jordan Westburg struck out at Globe Life Field on Tuesday night and the Rangers' sweep of the Orioles in the American League Division Series became final, there have been a few opinions expressed as to why they lost, how they lost and what went wrong.

OK, not a few, but an avalanche of opinions. Just when you think you can’t possibly hear or read another take, there will be one. No shortage of opinions, ranging - in my own opinion - from very possible and pertinent to flat out crazy. Whackadoo territory.

But the thing about a sports opinion is that no one is 100 percent right or wrong or can be proven that. They are opinions and in a social-media, sports-talk, hot-take world, it seems everyone has one. Some express them in interesting ways too.

Theories of why the Orioles lost include:

Not enough playoff experience.

* The moment was too big for them.

* The five-day layoff was a problem.

* Their starting pitching is not good enough.

* The late-season hitting slump carried over.

* Brandon Hyde made too many wrong moves.

* They didn’t do enough at the trade deadline.

Did I miss any? Yes, I bet I did, but these are among the reasons for the loss that observers have put forward.

And maybe some or all of them have some validity. But I have a basic and boring one for the loss: They just got whipped. They just got beat. It happens.

In the first three innings of the last two games Texas outscored the Orioles 15-2. That’s 15-2. Yeah, they were the comeback kids all season, but not from that sort of deficit. Grayson Rodriguez and Dean Kremer were big reasons the Orioles won the division title and fine choices to pitch in that series. Rodriguez was 5-2 with a 2.26 ERA in his last 12 starts leading into his Game 2 start. Kremer had a 2.89 ERA in his previous 10 starts leading into Game 3.

Guess what, Birdland? They just got beat. By a hot team. By a truck running downhill that also beat the Rays.

So for me, speaking for one here, to suggest that the outcome would have been different if Hyde had played Heston Kjerstad or not played Cedric Mullins, or not brought in Bryan Baker, or did start Kyle Gibson is bull. Hyde is not beyond criticism, of course, and moves can and should be questioned. But the Orioles just got beat.

The only team that won more games this year than the Orioles' 101 was Atlanta with 104. The Braves led the major leagues in several offensive categories this year, including home runs, slugging, team OPS at a fantastic .845 and runs per game at a stunning 5.85.

And now they are now down 2-1 to the Phillies in National League Division Series and have scored zero and two runs in their losses. Sometimes you just get beat. Even the Braves.

Late last night the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Los Angeles Dodgers to sweep three in a row from a Dodgers team that scored six runs in three games. So the three teams that won 100 or more this year are now a combined 1-8 in the postseason with two eliminated. 

But hey, theories are plentiful about the Orioles. A caller to a radio show yesterday suggested that John Means isn't really hurt, but that the team kept him off the ALDS roster because they were afraid to make a decision about which pitcher to leave out of the rotation. You can't make some of this stuff up. 

But I digress. 

The best news, I believe - again, speaking for one - is that when Birdland gets done with paralysis by overanalysis of this series and gets over the blame game and the crazy theories, most will realize the bright future ahead for this team. A talented major league team led by numerous young players. Plus the No. 1 farm in the game. Plus an emerging international program that has already produced one top 100 player in Samuel Basallo, with more on the way.

Birdland enjoys one of the best ballparks and one of the best fan bases. In that way we're pretty lucky around here.

For me, the favorite moment of the season was watching the sea of orange cheering with such energy at Oriole Park for the playoffs. What a crowd and what a moment for Birdland. The fans were passionate about their team. The team deserved such support.

The ending of baseball season can be sad. But while, for the Orioles, a season ended Tuesday night amid all that noise at Globe Life Field, as the Orioles watched another club celebrate, the window of opportunity for greatness is open wide.

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