A few quick takes as the O's fall into an 0-2 hole in the ALDS

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The Orioles are now down 0-2 in this best-of-five American League Division Series. They had 101 wins in the regular season and won the AL East championship, but after today’s 11-8 loss to Texas, their season will be over with one more loss.

With the Orioles down 11-5 in the ninth, Aaron Hicks blasted a three-run homer off Texas closer Jose Leclerc. He drove in five runs today. But the pitching gave up 11. 

The Orioles have now lost seven straight postseason games since their last win in the 2014 ALDS versus Detroit. The Rangers are 4-0 in the 2023 playoffs. 

The Orioles face a must-win situation Tuesday night at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

A few thoughts on Game 2:

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O's game blog: Looking to get even in ALDS Game 2 at Oriole Park

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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.

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DL Hall stayed on a roll in Game 1 and the O's challenge vs. Montgomery

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He ended the season getting a lot of big outs out of the Baltimore bullpen, and that continued through Saturday's Game 1 appearance versus Texas.

Late this year, in that relief role, lefty DL Hall looks very much like the top prospect he was coming up through the O's farm system.

In his last seven regular-season games, Hall pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing one unearned run on just three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. In that span, opponent batters hit just .115 off him with a .231 OPS.

Yesterday, in 1 2/3 innings, he did not allow a run or hit while recording one walk and three strikeouts.

For manager Brandon Hyde right now, the plan is simple: Get Hall the ball.

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Tyler Wells on playoff pressure: "It's controlled chaos"

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Tyler Wells doesn’t remember much about it now. But he once attended a Major League Baseball playoff game. He recalls it was in 2018 and it was at Dodger Stadium. He remembered going with his dad and that “Justin Turner did something cool, but I don’t remember what it was.”

Starting today he can make some of his own memories and take part in an MLB playoff game as the Orioles host Texas this afternoon to start the American League Division Series.

After 101 regular-season wins, the Orioles are three wins from reaching the AL Championship Series, seven wins from reaching the World Series and 11 from winning it.

For Wells, it’s a wonderful and exciting time, and one that was not guaranteed even a few weeks ago. He spent nearly two months in the minors. Coming out of the All-Star break he gave up 11 runs in nine innings over three starts and soon after found himself in Double-A Bowie and later Triple-A Norfolk. He finally returned to the O's active roster Sept. 22 and has thrown five hitless and scoreless innings upon his return to the majors.

“It’s incredibly special. I think it’s just made me a little more grateful,” said Wells. “To share the field with these guys and just enjoy it. It is hard to put into words how much appreciation I have for it.

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O's game blog: O's host Boston in Game No. 161

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And then there were two. Two games left in the 2023 regular season as the American League East champion Orioles (100-60) tonight host last-place Boston (77-83) in the third game of a four-game series at Oriole Park. 

The Orioles won their 100th game and clinched the division title with Thursday's 2-0 win. They lost to Boston 3-0 last night as they were held to three hits and blanked for the ninth time this season.

The Orioles offense has scored two runs or fewer in four of the last six and six of the last nine games. Baltimore batters have scored eight runs over the last four games and 26 in the past nine. They have hit just three homers in those nine games.

In this series the Orioles are 7-for-55 (.127) with two doubles and one homer, scoring two runs and going 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

The loss Friday ended Baltimore's five-game win streak by a combined 15-3 score. Over longer stretches, the Orioles have still won nine of 13, 17 of 26 and 29 of the last 44 games.

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Some of the youngest Birds came up together to now win in Baltimore

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For some of the youngest Orioles, winning an American League East championship last night was something they had talked about when they were together on the farm. Then those players rose through the ranks in the minors and now are part of a 100-win team in Baltimore.

“That is what you dream of when you get drafted,” O’s 22-year-old rookie Gunnar Henderson said this afternoon. “You have good friends you go through the minors with, to come up relatively the same time and be on a winning team your first full year, you dream of it.”

I asked Henderson if there was a time in the minors when he looked around and thought the group of players he was with then could produce something special.

“Just felt like from all the pieces that were added over the years and the drafts that we’ve had, it’s been cool to see everyone buy in together," he said. "Everyone just wants to win. The work ethic that we have shows we want to play winning baseball. Even at the minor league level it seems all the teams are winning and doing well.

“It’s also about having good people. Never have run into anyone with a cocky attitude or that is hard to be around. It’s all just good people, and that makes for a good clubhouse. That allows everyone to go out there and play their best game. You can really enjoy playing the game and spending time with each other. That allows for great relationships and for us to play our best game.”

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O's notes on the final homestand, 800 runs, AL East play and more

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And then there were six. Six games remaining in the 2023 regular season. If the Orioles can just go 3-3 in those games, they can clinch the American League East title without any help from a Rays loss.

Three wins would also produce the sixth 100-win season in Orioles history. The 1969 team went 109-53 for the best O’s record ever in the regular season. The 1970 team was 108-54 with the 1979 club going 102-57. In 1971, the Orioles were 101-57. They were 100-62 in 1980.

The 1980 club was the last O’s team to win 100 games. And while the first four to do it all made the World Series, the 1980 Orioles, while they had the second-best record in the majors, did not even make the playoffs.

With their next win, No. 98, the 2023 Orioles would join seven other O’s clubs to win 98 or more games. The 1997 team was the last to win that many, going 98-64.

The O’s magic number is three as the final homestand begins tonight with two games versus the Nationals and four versus the Red Sox.

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O's game blog: Orioles play their final regular-season road game of 2023

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After picking up a huge 2-1 win on Saturday, the Orioles today play the final game of this series and this road trip, and the final away game of their 2023 regular season

Cleveland won the first two games of the series by 5-2 and 9-8, before the Orioles picked up a win on Saturday that kept them 1 1/2 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East. The win reduced the O's magic number to win the division to five.

Anthony Santander had three hits and drove in both Baltimore runs while lefty John Means and two relievers teamed on a one-hitter. Means lost a no-hitter allowing a solo homer in the seventh and pitched 7 1/3 innings to improve to 1-1 with a 2.60 ERA. Yennier Cano and Cionel Pérez combined for the last five outs as Pérez picked up his third save.

The Orioles are 51-29 on the road and need a win today to tie the 1997 club for most wins and best win percentage in club history. That team went 52-29 on the road, playing .642 ball away from Baltimore. The 1980 O's won 50 road games, the 2023 club has 51 wins pending today's result and that 1997 club won 52.

The Orioles, who are 3-3 on this road trip, are 17-6-2 in road series this year.

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O's international program was big as club had four top prospects in the FCL

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The Orioles had a strong showing recently when Baseball America presented its top 20 prospects for this season from the Rookie-level Florida Complex League.

The Birds had four players represented in the back half of the list. And they are all international signings, another sign that the club’s international program is really starting to get going right now.

Three of the four players were signed for significant bonuses in January 2022 and those investments seem to be paying off.

The New York Yankees had the strongest showing in this ranking, with five players among the top 20 and four in the top 10. But no other team besides the O’s had as many as four players ranked.

Dominican outfielder Braylin Tavera, 18, was rated No. 12 on the FCL list. The club signed Tavera in January 2022 for $1.7 million, the second-highest bonus the Orioles have handed out under the Mike Elias regime.

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O's game blog: Looking to get back in the win column in Cleveland

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The Orioles' 5-2 loss at Cleveland Thursday night was just their seventh in 26 games in road series openers this year. They try to get back to the winning tonight at Cleveland after scoring three runs in losing the past two days. 

The Orioles (95-58) begin play tonight leading the American League East by 1 1/2 games over Tampa Bay (94-60). Their magic number for a division clinch is seven.

Just 12 O's teams in club history have won 96 or more games, a feat they are chasing tonight. The last was the 2014 AL East-winning Orioles, who went 96-66.

While they've lost their last two games, the Orioles have won four of six, 12 of 19, 14 of 23 and 29 of the last 45 games.

Rookie Gunnar Henderson went 0-for-4 with a walk last night. He is sitting on 63 extra-base hits, which ranks 11th-best in the AL. It is also two behind Cal Ripken Jr.'s Orioles rookie record for EBHs of 65 in 1982. With 27 homers, Henderson needs one more to tie Ripken's 1982 mark with 28, which is second-most by a Baltimore rookie. Ryan Mountcastle holds that single-season record, with 33 in 2021.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series victory at Houston

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Now 6-1 at Houston since the start of the 2021 season, the Orioles can win the series tonight if they take Game 2 of this three-game set at Minute Maid Park.

The Orioles (94-56) lead the American League East by 2 1/2 games over Tampa Bay (92-59) and the Birds have a magic number of nine to clinch the division championship.

On Sunday the Orioles trailed heading to the last of the eighth, ninth and 10th innings and won. Last night they trailed at the end of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, yet won. They beat two different playoff teams in those games, going 2-0 when trailing after eight innings. Through Saturday, they were 1-46 when behind at the end of eight.

The Orioles now lead the major leagues with 48 comeback wins, with Cincinnati second (46) and Philadelphia (41) third.

In winning three in a row, Baltimore has outscored the Rays and Astros by 21-11.

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O's game blog: The road trip begins in Houston

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The Orioles lead the American League East by two games, plus hold the playoff tiebreaker over the Tampa Bay Rays with 13 games to play. They begin the last regular season road trip tonight at Houston in a matchup of AL division leaders and a possible playoff preview.

The Orioles (93-56) will play three games this week at Houston and then four at Cleveland. They then return home to wrap up the regular season with two games versus Washington and four against Boston. 

Both best-of-three AL wild card series begin Oct. 3 and both of the best-of-five AL division series start Oct. 7. The American League Championship Series starts Oct. 15 and the 2023 World Series begins Friday, Oct. 27. If the Fall Classic goes seven games, it will end on Saturday, Nov. 4.

The Birds won the final two games of the Tampa Bay series by a combined 13-4 score to win the season series 8-5 over the Rays. It's the first time the O's have taken a season series from Tampa Bay since 2016. The Orioles played four series this year versus the Rays and didn't lose any of them, going 2-1, 1-1, 3-1 and 2-2.

In the eight games this year between those teams decided by one or two runs, the Orioles went 7-1.

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Amazing comeback: O's trail in eighth, ninth and 10th, yet walk off Rays in 11th (Hyde quotes added)

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In a game in which they trailed by two runs in the eighth, and by one in the ninth and the 10th today, the Orioles produced a stirring comeback win.

One that lifted them back to a two-game lead atop the American League East at 93-56. They split the four-game series with the Rays, winning the last two games.

Cedric Mullins' sac fly with one out in the 11th scored Adley Rutschman from third and the O's had a walk-off win, 5-4 in 11 over Tampa Bay. An amazing comeback victory. And Mullins third career walk-off plate appearance. 

Before they sealed the win, Baltimore produced some late-game drama today. After Tampa Bay hit two homers to take a 3-1 lead in the eighth, the Orioles rallied to tie it with single runs in the eighth and ninth. They were down to their last out when they tied the score in the ninth and also in the tenth.

Down 3-2 to the last of the ninth, the Orioles rallied against Rays closer Pete Fairbanks. He came on in the last of the eighth with the Rays leading 3-1 and the O's pulled to within a run on Adley Rutschman's 19th homer.

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O's game blog: O's look to split series, wrap up 2023 playoff spot in series finale

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A series that got off to a pretty brutal start for the Orioles could have a real happy ending today with a win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

If they get the win, the Orioles (92-56) will widen their American League East lead to two games with 13 games left. And they will clinch their first playoff berth since the 2016 season.

The Orioles clinch a place in the playoffs today if they win, and even if they lose they will clinch with a loss by either Texas or Seattle. The Rays' magic number to clinch the postseason is also one, and the same scenarios are true today for the Rays. A loss by Texas or Seattle would put both Baltimore and Tampa Bay in the 2023 postseason. 

A 93rd win would also make the 2023 Orioles the 17th team in club history to have 93 or more. Five O's teams have won 100 or more. The last was the 1980 Orioles. This club needs to go 8-6 or better in its remaining games to get there.

The O's broke their first-place tie with Tampa Bay with Saturday's 8-0 win at Oriole Park. Gunnar Henderson hit his 27th homer and had three hits and three RBIs. Six different O's drove in runs as they went 6-for-11 with runners in scoring position. After the O's had scored just six runs during a four-game losing streak, they had six by last night's fourth inning.

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Brandon Hyde updates Félix Bautista's side session, plus other notes

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Orioles closer Félix Bautista, on the injured list with a partial tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, took a potentially significant step today.

He threw off a mound in the Orioles bullpen before the series finale with Tampa Bay.

“He just threw a side this morning,” manager Brandon Hyde said in his pregame press conference. “Sounds like it went pretty well. That was kind of the next step in his throwing progression. So, see how he feels tomorrow. We’re just kind of day-to-day with him right now.”

Hyde was asked if he is pleased with this progress for Bautista, who has not pitched since Aug. 25.

“Yeah. I just ran into him and (head athletic trainer) Brian (Ebel) after the side session and it sounds like it went pretty well. That’s always encouraging," he said.

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Henderson and Rodriguez lead O's to win Saturday, now team on doorstep of playoffs

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When I asked manager Brandon Hyde before last night's game how his clubhouse was holding up after four straight losses and two straight to Tampa Bay, he basically said he didn't sense any difference. His team was ready for a big game Saturday night after losing by 4-3 and 7-1 to a Rays team that was red-hot and had now tied the Orioles for the lead in the American League East.

“I just think they’re disappointed, but they’re going to bounce back, ready to play tonight,” Hyde said. “I haven’t sensed anything. You can hear them interacting well. We had a good hitters meeting a while ago, but we do every day. So, I think they’re ready to go.”

They were indeed ready to go.

After scoring six runs the previous four games, they scored six runs in four innings. Off Tyler Glasnow, a pitcher with a 3.15 ERA for the year. Glasnow was 2.53 in 10 second-half starts. 

The Rays entered Saturday's game having allowed four or fewer earned runs in 11 consecutive games, their longest streak since a club-record 19-game run from Sept. 16, 2021 to April 10, 2022. Tampa Bay's pitching staff has posted an AL-best 2.79 ERA in that span.

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O's game blog: Game 2 of the Tampa Bay series

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Now working on just their third losing streak of the year of three games or more, the Orioles (91-55) host the Tampa Bay Rays (91-57) tonight. It’s the second game of this critical series to impact first place in the American League East. 

The Orioles lost 4-3 last night in the series opener and are now 26-14 in one-run games, 32-16 in series-opening games and 53-17 when they score first. They are now 6-4 versus Tampa Bay for the year and 28-17 in AL East games.

The Orioles have been so consistent this year that they have no long losing streaks, having dropped a season-high four straight from June 27-July 1. They lost three in a row twice – from May 6-8 and now.

The Orioles lead now is down to just one game atop the division. The O’s and Rays have been tied for first two times this year, on July 19 and July 21, and tonight would be a third occasion with a Tampa Bay victory.

After their 13-12 win over Boston on Saturday at Fenway Park, the O’s held a four-game lead atop the AL East.

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Adam Jones retires as an Oriole: "Baltimore is a special part in my heart"

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Adam Jones and Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias sat at the front of the press conference. Jones would soon put on his No. 10 jersey after officially signing a contract that allows him to retire as an Oriole.

At the event attended by his wife Audie and two sons and others close to him, Jones talked about a special day for him with a pregame ceremony still to come tonight.

“Glad this day has finally come,” Jones said.

“Baltimore is a special part in my heart. I still consistently watch the Orioles games, even when in Japan. I adopted this city. My wife is from here, my kids were born here.

“We put our stamp here. The Boys and Girls clubs, the YMCA and with various other groups. It was more with the people of Baltimore. So many here know me, and not just from baseball.

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O's game blog: John Means makes long-awaited return as O's host St. Louis

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John Means' long road back to a major league mound will finally end tonight. His last MLB game was April 13, 2022 versus Milwaukee. Later that month he underwent Tommy John surgery. 

It looked like Means would return by mid-season this year, but in late May he had a setback with a strained muscle in his upper back. And finally tonight he makes his first big league outing since that Milwaukee game. 

Means has pitched in six minor league rehab games, going 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA over 21 2/3 innings. He pitched three times at Double-A Bowie and the last three times with Triple-A Norfolk.

With the Tides he went 1-0 with a 2.51 ERA, allowing four earned runs in 14 1/3 innings with six walks, 12 strikeouts and a .216 batting average against. 

He threw 72 pitches for Norfolk on Aug. 25, and then 86 on Aug. 31. He was backed off to 67 in his most recent game last Wednesday when he allowed six hits and three runs over five innings.

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Gunnar Henderson on joining Ripken and Murray in the rookie 25-25 club

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Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray were Orioles Rookie of the Year winners, and last night Gunnar Henderson joined the Hall of Famers as the only rookies in team history to hit 25 or more doubles and homers in a season.

He hit homer No. 25 in the sixth inning as the Orioles beat St. Louis 11-5.

As he attempts to become the first O’s ROY since pitcher Gregg Olson in 1989, Henderson is putting the finishes touches on one strong season.

Now he put his name alongside O’s royalty.

“That is awesome,” Henderson said in the clubhouse today. “Anytime you can be considered with those two names it’s really special. Just for all they have done in Oriole history. Pretty cool to see my name with them.

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