Next stop Arlington, Tex. That is where the Orioles are headed looking for a win. What they hope is the first of three in a row over the next five days to save their season.
The Texas Rangers ended the regular season losing three of four at Seattle to let the AL West title get away. They were 40-41 on the road this year. None of that mattered as first they took out the 99-win Tampa Bay Rays, winning two on the road. And now they have a 2-0 lead in games in a best-of-five on the 101 win Orioles. Winning two in Baltimore.
In Game 1, the Orioles didn't hit enough. In Game 2 they didn't pitch well enough. Not nearly losing 11-8. The 11 runs allowed is the most they have ever given up in their postseason history, which amounts to 94 games since 1966.
They walked 11 batters and six of them scored and all 11 helped the Rangers to the win.
In the quiet of the postgame clubhouse, Gunnar Henderson who went 2-for-4 with a homer, expressed confidence they have another three-game win streak in them.
"Yeah, I mean we have done it all year and we’ll continue to go out there and play our game," said Henderson. "There is no pressure on us. We've just got to go out there and play for fun and see what we can do.
“It’s now how you want to start off your playoff series, but it’s not over. Not over until the last pitch is thrown but that is how we treat it every day."
Last night he became the third Oriole rookie to hit a postseason homer, joining Manny Machado and Ryan Flaherty from the 2012 playoffs.
Henderson said he would take it as a positive, that down by 9-2 early on, the Orioles got Jordan Montgomery out of the game by the fifth and they put up eight runs and 14 hits after struggling so much lately on offense.
“Yeah, definitely eat some of their bullpen up. Saw some of their arms. Just being able to see that and get some experience against some of their bullpen arms that is big, especially in a five-game series. Being able to set ourselves up for these next couple of games," he said.
Added outfielder Austin Hays, who had three hits and a walk: "I mean there is no tomorrow. I feel like that’s how our team plays honestly, that’s how we have played all year. So, we’re just going to play like there is no tomorrow, play with our hair on fire and win three in a row.”
The Rangers pitched well in winning Game 1 and hit well in winning Game 2. They are 4-0 in the postseason, all versus AL East teams, after the shaky end to their regular season.
Outfielder Aaron Hicks produced a two-run single in the first to get the crowd in a frenzy and gave the O's late life with a three-run homer in the ninth.
His five RBI game tied an O's postseason record. Paul Blair also had five on Oct. 6, 1969, in Game 3 of the ALCS against Minnesota. He hit his third career playoff homer and first since Oct. 18, 2019, for New York against Houston.
The two sellout crowds made for an amazing atmosphere at Camden Yards to start this series. The players were, of course, appreciative.
“It was really an amazing experience," said Hays. "Being able to run on the orange carpet yesterday. Seeing all the fans with the (orange) towels, I’ve never seen that in this stadium in my career. Definitely the loudest stadium I’ve ever been in. Only been to one All-Star game. Seattle was loud this year, but Camden Yards was way louder these last couple of days. Just a great experience."
Infielder Jorge Mateo hit just .217 with a .607 OPS this season. He didn't have a four-hit game all year and had just one of three hits. But he went 4-for-4 with two singles and two doubles.
“Felt good up there at the plate," he said through team translator Brandon Quinones. "Just taking advantage of those opportunities. Tough day for the team but we have plenty of opportunities to get it done going forward.”
He is the first Oriole to record four hits in a postseason game since Kiko Garcia did so at Pittsburgh in Game 3 of the 1979 World Series. He becomes the first Oriole with multiple extra-base hits in a playoff game since Alejandro De Aza had two doubles on Oct. 2, 2014, versus Detroit in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Like Henderson he was encouraged by the team putting up eight runs. But now they face a must-win situation.
“It shows that we’re still competing, still making adjustments. It does give us hope that we can still get the job done. We have played well in Texas before, and we feel really good playing there. So hopefully we go in and get the job done.
“No one said it was going to be easy. We’re going to fight the fight and keep going forward. That is all we can do right now," said Mateo.
The last time the Orioles lost the first two in a postseason series they were swept by Kansas City in the 2014 ALCS.
Per Elias Sports Bureau, teams that trail 0-2 after the first two of a best-of-five series have gone 10-78 in those series.