Orioles lose Game 1 of Division Series 3-2 (updated)

The sun finally came out at Camden Yards, followed by outfielders Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays.

The crowd erupted, less than an hour before first pitch. Two players jogging out of the dugout for pregame stretching eliciting cheers. The dam bursting after playoff excitement had been contained for so long.

Then came the scoreboard countdown to introductions, men and women decked out in orange gear waving towels of the same color. Adam Jones threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Mullins and kept motioning for the place to get louder, as if the volume button had another notch.

Kyle Bradish leaped over the first base line, pounded his fist in his glove and struck out Rangers leadoff hitter Marcus Semien on three pitches. The postseason returned to Baltimore and it didn’t enter quietly.

Orioles fans filed out that way. But there’s always tomorrow.

The top seed in the Division Series, with the best record in the American League, didn’t live up to its stature. Anthony Santander reached base three times, including his home run in the sixth, but the Orioles lost 3-2 before an announced sellout crowd of 46,450.

The homefield edge is gone. The goal now is to avoid falling into an 0-2 hole before flying to Texas.

"This is a tough team to beat if you score two runs," said manager Brandon Hyde. "They're unbelievably patient. They don't chase out of the zone. We did a great job on the mound, the three runs. We didn't have the offense today, we didn't create traffic."

Pinch-hitter Ryan O’Hearn struck out looking to end the seventh after Josh Sborz walked leadoff hitter Aaron Hicks on four pitches. Aroldis Chapman walked the first two batters in the eighth, with a wild pitch in between, but Santander bounced into a double play and Ryan Mountcastle struck out on a 101.4 mph sinker.

Gunnar Henderson led off the ninth with a single against José Leclerc and was thrown out trying to steal. Hyde called it "a little miscommunication there." Henderson, who looked back at the plate on his way to second base, indicated that he got the steal sign from the dugout.

"Trying to get something going right there," he said. "Thought it was a good time to try to take it. Yeah, didn't happen. Hate that it didn't happen, but it didn't. Better chance of scoring."

Asked whether it was Hyde's call, Henderson said, "Yeah, that was his. Just trying to get out there and play hard, and felt like we had a good chance to do it. Felt like (Leclerc) had some slow times to the plate, so it was a good opportunity right there.

"We had some opportunities early to score some runs, didn't come through, and that's just how it goes sometimes."

The Rangers scored twice off Bradish in the top of the fourth inning, and rookie Josh Jung hit a solo homer off Jacob Webb in the sixth. Bradish struck out nine batters in 4 2/3 innings but was removed after 84 pitches.

"We were down 2-1 and he just gave up two runs the inning before," Hyde said. "And I don't think he's as sharp as he is usually. But he punched out nine and had really good stuff."

"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 had a double off me and a walk, so I completely understand it."

DL Hall tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Tyler Wells retired all three batters with two strikeouts. Cionel Pérez issued a walk in the ninth and struck out two to raise the Orioles’ total to 16.

"My goal was to get up here and try to help these guys," Hall said. "It was a long road, obviously wish I could have been up here sooner."

The Game 1 start was delayed due to rain that kept the tarp on the field and most fans undercover.

They waited nine years for a home playoff game. What’s another 73 minutes?

Santander singled with two outs in the first inning for the Orioles’ first playoff hit since Manny Machado’s two-out single in the sixth inning of the 2016 Wild Card Game in Toronto. But Rangers left-hander Andrew Heaney didn’t allow another hit until Mountcastle’s RBI double in the fourth that followed a one-out walk to Santander.

Mountcastle is 4-for-8 with two doubles and two home runs against Heaney. The walk was the first by a Texas starter in 17 2/3 postseason innings.

Right-hander Dane Dunning entered with two outs and walked Aaron Hicks, but pinch-hitter Adam Frazier popped up after getting ahead 2-0 in the count.

Santander launched a Dunning changeup 420 feet in the sixth to cut the lead to 3-2. The Orioles have 100 home runs in 93 postseason games, per STATS, beginning with back-to-back shots by Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson off Don Drysdale in the first inning of Game 1 of the 1966 World Series.

Bradish struck out two batters in a 15-pitch first inning, stranding Robbie Grossman after a two-out double. He struck out three in the second after Evan Carter’s leadoff walk.

Per @SlangsOnSports, Bradish’s five strikeouts tied Chris Tillman in Game 1 of the 2014 ALDS for second-most through two innings of a postseason game in franchise history behind Jim Palmer’s six in Game 1 of the 1973 ALCS.

The Rangers collected five hits off Bradish in the fourth, and Webb and Coulombe began to warm. Back-to-back doubles by Adolis García and Carter got Texas started, and Jonah Heim followed with an RBI single.

Nathaniel Lowe and Leody Taveras also singled, the Rangers finding every hole in the infield, but Bradish struck out Marcus Semien with the bases loaded.

A redesigned bullpen on a 12-man pitching staff got busy with Bradish at 69 pitches. The gate swung open in the fifth after an infield single and two strikeouts.

"It was a good first experience in the postseason," Bradish said. "Frustrating outing. They had two hard-hit balls, but left a few balls close to the plate that they hit for ground balls that found holes. It's a good-hitting team, that's what they do. But overall you know it was a little frustrating but come back next game."

Bradish joined Mike Mussina (three times), Mike Boddicker in the 1983 ALCS, Mike Cuellar in the 1973 ALCS and Palmer in the 1973 ALCS as Orioles pitchers with nine-plus strikeouts in a postseason game over the last 50 years, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark.

"It felt different when I was walking out there to warm up," Bradish said. "Everybody got loud when I walked out there. Pregame throwing felt good. Did my bullpen, but yeah it felt a little different warm ups wise.
"But the energy was great today. On the mound standing there, got a strikeout. The crowd started shaking. Pretty cool."

The regular season ended with Bradish’s scoreless streak at 16 innings. He attached three today before stumbling in the fourth.

The Orioles must regain their footing fast or move to the brink of elimination.

The postseason losing streak is six games with the sweep in Kansas City in the 2014 Championship Series and 2016 wild card loss in Toronto preceding today’s outcome. The longest streak in franchise history.

Their last pitcher to earn a win in the playoffs was Bud Norris in Game 3 of the 2014 Division Series in Detroit, with Zack Britton registering the last save.

There’s always tomorrow. When the sun will come out again.

"We respond fine," Hyde said. "In the last week or so of the season, we had a tough time scoring early. And take a lot of pressure off a lot of people on the mound, on themselves if we try to get a few runs across early in the game.

"I thought the environment was unbelievable. It was really loud early in the game, to start the game. Thank you fans for showing up. That was a special environment for our guys to play in. We just got beat."

"It was fun, this is what you look forward to the whole year is getting to the postseason," Henderson said. "The crowd was electric. Facing different pitcher every time can be tough, but that's just playoff baseball. Just got to stay locked in.

"We've done this all year. No matter what we do, just going to come back and play hard tomorrow and continue to try to win games."

"Just can’t look too far ahead," Hays said. "We’ve got one game tomorrow. Come out, we get a win, and then we’re right back in the series and it’s one game to one. We’re right where we want to be."



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