The Baltimore Orioles find themselves on the brink of playoff elimination, facing the daunting task of winning three consecutive games to move forward in the postseason. Despite the bleak situation, the Orioles can take pride in their remarkable achievement throughout the regular season – never being swept in a series. This noteworthy accomplishment has not occurred since the call-up of catcher Adley Rutschman in late May 2022. Outfielder Austin Hays attributes this success to the team’s ability to turn the page and remain focused on the next game, thereby avoiding consecutive losses. However, avoiding a sweep is just the first hurdle the Orioles need to overcome.
The Orioles’ chances of a series comeback are further complicated by their poor performance on the pitching front in Game 2 against the Texas Rangers. Orioles pitchers struggled with control, walking a total of 11 batters, including the impressive feat of Corey Seager being walked a postseason-record five times. The Orioles deployed eight pitchers who combined for 206 pitches, further exemplifying a lack of consistency on the mound. Grayson Rodriguez, a rookie starter with an impressive second-half performance, particularly struggled with his fastball command, allowing four walks and six hits in just five outs, leading to a five-run second inning. Despite a late rally from the Orioles in the ninth inning, it fell short, leaving their manager Brandon Hyde acknowledging that their back was against the wall and their performance on the mound was subpar.
The odds seem stacked against the Orioles as they try to mount a series comeback. History has shown that teams winning the first two games on the road in a best-of-five series have an overwhelming advantage, with 28 out of 31 teams ultimately winning the series. However, the Orioles are determined and share the sentiment that there is no tomorrow. They plan to approach the next three games with a sense of urgency and intensity, playing with their hair on fire, as described by Austin Hays. While they face an uphill battle, their determination and refusal to go down without a fight could potentially turn the tide in their favor.
The Game 2 starting pitcher, Grayson Rodriguez, initially showed promise with a 100 mph fastball on his first pitch and successfully escaping a bases-loaded jam in the first inning. However, his inability to consistently hit the zone and lack of control caught up with him in the second inning, resulting in his early departure from the game. Manager Brandon Hyde brought in reliever Bryan Baker for the third inning, despite limited recent appearances and questionable performance in Triple-A. Baker’s struggles became evident as he walked three of the four batters he faced. The subsequent entrance of Jacob Webb, who had already served up a home run in Game 1, only added to the Orioles’ woes as Mitch Garver hit a grand slam off a 3-1 fastball. This series of pitching changes and the inability to solve Corey Seager, the Rangers’ standout hitter, contributed to the Orioles’ defeat.
Corey Seager proved to be a formidable opponent for the Orioles’ pitching staff. Known for his strong hitting abilities, Seager demonstrated an unexpected level of patience at the plate throughout the series. In Game 2 alone, Seager was walked five times, breaking a postseason record. His ability to work the count and force pitchers into uncomfortable situations proved to be a significant challenge for the Orioles. The team’s catcher, Adley Rutschman, admitted that executing their game plan against Seager required even more precision due to his exceptional talent. Despite Seager’s reputation as an aggressive hitter, he displayed discipline and selectivity, making him a formidable threat in the Rangers’ lineup.
The Rangers, currently leading the series, have undoubtedly showcased their offensive prowess, hitting .272/.376/.456 and scoring 25 runs in their four postseason games. However, it is worth noting that these impressive performances were achieved on the road. As the series shifts to their home stadium, Globe Life Field, they will have the advantage of playing in a familiar environment where they have hit 53 more home runs than they did on the road. This further adds to the complexity of the Orioles’ task at hand.
The Baltimore Orioles face a tremendous challenge as they seek to avoid their first series sweep of the season. While the odds may be against them, their resilience and determination could provide a glimmer of hope as they embark on the next three games. Their ability to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, coupled with a renewed focus on executing their game plan, will be crucial in their upcoming match-ups against the Texas Rangers. As the Orioles strive to defy the odds, only time will tell if they can stage a comeback and continue their remarkable season.
Source : ESPN.com