Orioles leftovers from Game 2 of ALDS

The first batter that Yennier Cano faced last night in the top of the ninth inning, Rangers rookie Josh Jung, slapped a double down the right field line. Beyond the fence in left-center was veteran Kyle Gibson warming in the bullpen.

A reliever in an immediate jam. A starter perhaps getting ready to replace him.

What made it a curious situation was Gibson’s candidacy to start Game 3 of the Division Series Tuesday night in Arlington. Did manager Brandon Hyde show his hand?

Hyde told the media earlier in the day that he’d announce his starter during Monday’s workout, with the only choices Gibson or Dean Kremer. No one else qualified after John Means came down with elbow soreness that kept him off the roster.

Perhaps the decision hinged on whether the Orioles were down 0-2 or tied 1-1.

Hyde explained afterward that Cano would have returned for the 10th if the Orioles rallied, with Gibson following him. In the meantime, Gibson wanted “a little touch and feel off the mound” before a possible entrance.

Don’t read more into it.

“No,” Hyde said. “We need to win the next game. Pretty much everybody is going to be available two days from now.”

We just don’t know who’s starting Game 3.

Jack Flaherty, the one length guy in the ‘pen, didn’t appear until the fifth. After Bryan Baker walked the bases loaded in the third and Jacob Webb surrendered Mitch Garver’s grand slam.

“In the third inning I had a lot of game left,” Hyde said. “I pretty much used everybody available. So, started with Baker against the bottom of the order there, I was hoping he'd give us an inning. That didn't work out. Webby gave up the grand slam and went out and pitched the next inning.

“I thought Jack did an OK job giving us two innings in the middle part of the game.”

* To get a true understanding of the high demands that Anthony Santander places upon himself, how he believes that the offensive numbers etched into his stats are only scratching the surface, check out his interpretation of the 2023 season.

Santander led the Orioles with 41 doubles and 95 RBIs, tied Gunnar Henderson in home runs with 28, was second in hits (152) and slugging (.472), and was third in runs (81), walks (55), OPS (.797) and bWAR (3.0).

The hits, doubles, RBIs, runs, OPS and .325 on-base percentage are career highs in a non-pandemic season. His 153 games are one more than last season’s previous high. He received votes for Most Valuable Oriole.

Santander hit a solo homer in Game 1 that reduced the deficit to 3-2. Loud sounds coming from an otherwise quiet offense.

Seems like a pretty solid effort building off 2022, but Santander has mixed emotions.

“Well, how I wanted to, I would say not really,” he said via interpreter Brandon Quinones, “but I still do think that I progressed a lot in comparison to last year.”

So, maybe just not far enough.

“This is a game of adjustments,” he said, “so it's just going to be a matter of continuing to adjust the entire way through.

Santander is one of the longest tenured Orioles after his arrival in the 2016 Rule 5 draft. Played on the 100-plus loss teams in 2019 and 2021. Went through the hard times with Hyde, who’s the favorite to be named American League Manager of the Year.

“Yeah, he's been through some difficult moments with us, but I think the biggest thing is that he's been able to maintain a great atmosphere with this team, and that’s why we have a great team chemistry,” Santander said. “I think his support means a lot to us, and he's been able to support us and keep us going through every step of this rebuild.”

Hyde’s contract terms aren’t publicized but he’s known to have received an extension. Santander’s situation is much clearer. He has one more year of arbitration eligibility after receiving $7.4 million this season and can become a free agent prior to the 2025.

MLBTradeRumors.com estimates Santander’s next salary at $12.7 million and the Orioles will be tasked over the winter with making room for outfielders Heston Kjerstad and Colton Cowser. Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias has rejected past trade proposals, and there’s always interest in Santander.

“I'm really happy, and I’m really happy to be here through the end of this rebuild process,” Santander said, “and I'm really proud of this team and organization that we're able to be here in this moment in this situation right now, and I'm just hoping to be able to enjoy it.”  

* Jordan Westburg doubled in the fourth inning for his first postseason hit.

Proving there’s a stat for everything, Westburg is the youngest right-handed hitting Orioles player at 24 years and 232 days to record an extra-base hit in the playoffs since Jonathan Schoop at 22 years and 351 days on Oct. 2, 2014 against the Tigers in Game 1 of the ALDS.

And then there’s Adley Rutschman’s double in the eighth inning for his first career postseason hit. He’s the first Orioles catcher with an extra-base hit in the playoffs since Matt Wieters doubled on Oct. 8, 2012 against the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALDS.

Jorge Mateo doubled twice and singled twice and became the first Oriole with multiple extra-base hits in a playoff game since Alejandro De Aza had two doubles on Oct. 2, 2014 against the Tigers in Game 1 of the ALDS.

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