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

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.

"He went an inning and two-thirds, punched out a few. He's been doing that since September," Hyde said. "He's got lefties and righties out with great stuff. He picked up five big outs in a big part of the game."

Hall might be throwing the ball as well now as he ever has.

"I think for a lot of young guys and guys who come up as pitchers, I think that it's kind of like putting a puzzle together, trying to put all the pieces together," he said today of how he has evolved as a pitcher. "And over the years I've kind of just tried to find all those missing parts, whether it be how to keep myself healthy on the field or whether it be mechanical things or things like that. So I think it's just you try to put it all together the best you can and continue to just make it better."

When he was in Florida trying to get his arm strength fully back this summer, Hall said the chance to pitch in playoff games was one thing that drove him.

"Yeah, I talked to our minor league director, Matt Blood," Hall recalled. "I told him I think it was the best decision for me to go down there and get ready because I felt like I could either continue to kind of spin my wheels and try and rehab and play at the same time, or I could come and go to Florida and get ready and where I needed to be and come be a part of the playoffs for this team.

"And that was something that I told him from the very beginning: I want to be a part of it. I want to help this team win in the playoffs. I think that was in the back of my head every day, for sure."

O's face Montgomery today: When the Orioles host Game 2 of the American League Division Series later today at Camden Yards, they will face Texas lefty Jordan Montgomery, a pitcher they have seen 16 times previously, all when he was with the New York Yankees, starting in 2017.

Montgomery shut down the Tampa Bay Rays when Texas won Game 1 of the AL wild card series on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. He threw seven scoreless innings at the Trop, allowing six hits and no walks with five strikeouts on 93 pitches. That followed up a very strong end to his regular season when he had an ERA of 0.67 over his last four starts.

So, the Orioles face a pitcher on a big roll today. In 11 starts with Texas since he was traded to the Rangers on July 30 from St. Louis, Montgomery has gone 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA.

Now he will pitch again at Camden Yards, but this time with the much deeper left-field wall. He said that will be quite different.

“A lot different. Righties used to - I remember Gleyber Torres hit, like, 18 home runs here," Montgomery said. "I think he might have been the reason they moved it back. It kind of changes what you're throwing and how you attack righties. But, yeah, that's the main thing I think of every time I think of the fence getting moved back, was that run Gleyber did.” 

In 16 career starts against the Orioles, Montgomery - who has not faced Baltimore this year - has gone 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA and .683 OPS against. So he has a track record of success against the Orioles.

“I don't think it matters (now),” he said in the interview room before Game 1. “I mean, this is a totally new team than when I was facing them. A bunch of good players. They've always been a good team. Always had a good lineup and I'm excited to face them again.

“They've got a lot of new faces. (Ryan) Mountcastle was just coming up, and I think everyone knew he was going to be a stud. And then they got (Gunnar) Henderson and Adley (Rutschman), and Cedric (Mullins) has been great. And up and down their lineup, a lot of talent. And their starters have been great. Just altogether a really good team.”

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (7-4, 4.35 ERA) takes the ball opposite Mongomery today. The Orioles are 14-9 in his 23 starts this year. Over his past 12 since July 22, he allowed two earned runs or fewer 10 times, going 5-2 with a 2.26 ERA in that span. The O’s hope that continues today.

From Nacogdoches, Texas, Rodriguez gets to face a team from Texas today. During the regular season he had two very different starts against the Rangers. He allowed two runs in five innings in Arlington on April 5 in his big league debut. On May 26 in Baltimore he allowed nine runs (eight earned) in 3 1/3 innings. That poor outing left him with a 7.35 ERA and was his last start before he was sent back to the minors to get himself straightened out, which he did at Triple-A Norfolk.

Now he faces his home-state team.

“Watched them a lot as a kid, a lot of Rangers and Astros games," Rodriguez said. "Just being able to face a team like that is pretty special to me. It's something I've been dreaming of for a while.” 

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