The Orioles (101-61), champions of the American League East and the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs, need a win today against the Texas Rangers (90-72) to even the AL Division Series.
Texas used six pitchers Saturday to hold the Orioles to five hits in a 3-2 win in the series opener. Andrew Heaney got the start, allowing one run in 3 2/3 innings, and Dane Dunning pitched two innings of relief to get the win. José Leclerc got the last three outs to record a save.
O's starter Kyle Bradish allowed two runs over 4 2/3 to take the loss. The O's six pitchers combined to strike out 16 batters, their most ever in a nine-inning postseason game.
The Orioles have now lost the first game of three straight playoff series dating to an opening win in the 2014 ALDS versus Detroit. They are now 52-41 all-time in postseason games and 11-6 in ALDS games.
Heading into this year's playoffs, Texas had a six-game postseason losing streak. Now they have gone 3-0 versus the Rays and Orioles by a combined 14-3 score. Their pitchers have allowed just the three runs on 19 hits in 27 innings for a postseason ERA of 1.00.
Anthony Santander hit a solo homer in the sixth inning after hitting 28 in the regular season to tie Gunnar Henderson for the team lead. Santander became the ninth Oriole to homer in his first postseason game and first since Mark Trumbo on Oct. 4, 2016 in the AL wild card game at Toronto.
The first to ever do this was Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, versus the Dodgers in the 1966 World Series. Santander's home run is the Orioles’ 100th in 93 postseason games, per STATS.
O's first baseman Ryan Mountcastle recorded an RBI double in the fourth inning, his first career postseason hit, to put the O’s on the board.
Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (7-4, 4.35 ERA) gets the start for the Birds today after making 23 regular-season starts, with the O's going 14-9 in those games.
The right-hander was rolling down the stretch. He gave up two earned runs or fewer in his last six starts, going 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA. He did that 10 times in his last 12 starts, going 5-2 with a 2.26 ERA, a .217 batting average against and an OPS against of .569 in that span since July 22.
In 12 home starts, he went 4-2 with a 4.59 ERA and 1.438 WHIP.
With his start today, Rodriguez will become the fifth O's rookie (sixth occurrence) to start a postseason game in club history and the first since Miguel González started for Baltimore in Game 3 of the 2012 ALDS at the New York Yankees, allowing one run over seven innings.
Lefty Jordan Montgomery (10-11, 3.20 ERA) will make his second postseason start for Texas. In Game 1 of the AL wild card round he pitched Texas past Tampa Bay 4-0 on Tuesday throwing seven scoreless on 93 pitches. It continued his late-season roll for the Rangers, where he posted an 0.67 ERA his last four starts leading into the playoffs. In that time he allowed two runs in 27 innings.
The Orioles are 2-3 in playoff series when they lost Game 1, per the Elias Sports Bureau. They are 1-1 in five-game series and 1-2 in seven-game series. They won both the ALCS and World Series in 1983 when losing the openers of those series.
According to Elias Sports, teams are 43-105 all-time (through 2022) when dropping the first game of a best-of-five postseason series; teams are 10-78 in series after dropping Games 1 and 2.