The Baltimore Orioles are facing elimination from the postseason after losing 11-8 to the Texas Rangers in the second game of the division series on Saturday. The Orioles had hoped that their ace pitcher Grayson Rodriguez, who had a stellar second half of the season, would help them even the series. However, Rodriguez struggled with his command and gave up seven runs in four innings, while the Rangers’ offense exploded for 11 runs on 11 hits.
Rodriguez fails to deliver in crucial game
Rodriguez, who had a 2.38 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 83 innings after the All-Star break, looked like a different pitcher in his playoff debut. He walked four batters and allowed nine hits, including two home runs by Corey Seager and Evan Carter. He also took a 107 mph line drive off his calf in the third inning, but stayed in the game until the fifth inning, when he was replaced by Dillon Tate.
Rodriguez’s poor performance was a big blow for the Orioles, who had relied on him to anchor their rotation and lead them to their first playoff appearance since 2016. The Orioles had won 14 of his 16 starts in the second half, and he had pitched at least six innings in 13 of them. He had also dominated the Rangers in two regular season starts, allowing only one run in 13 innings.
However, Rodriguez could not replicate his success in the postseason, and he admitted that he was nervous and out of sync. “I was trying to do too much out there,” he said after the game. “I wasn’t trusting my stuff and I was falling behind in counts. I let them get comfortable and they made me pay.”
Orioles’ offense comes alive too late
The Orioles did not go down without a fight, as they scored eight runs on 14 hits against the Rangers’ pitching staff. They got on the board in the first inning, when Aaron Hicks drove in two runs with a single off Tyler Glasnow. They added two more runs in the fourth inning, when Jorge Mateo hit a solo home run and Hicks hit an RBI double.
However, the Orioles could not keep up with the Rangers’ onslaught, as they trailed 7-4 after four innings and 11-4 after seven innings. The Orioles tried to mount a comeback in the eighth inning, when they scored four runs on five hits, including a three-run home run by Gunnar Henderson. However, they could not get any closer, as Ian Kennedy retired the side in order in the ninth inning to seal the win for the Rangers.
The Orioles’ offense was led by Mateo, who had four hits and two runs scored, and Hicks, who had three hits and five RBIs. Henderson also had three hits and three runs scored, while Adley Rutschman reached base three times with two walks and a hit. The Orioles hit four home runs in the game, more than the Rangers’ three.
However, the Orioles also wasted some scoring opportunities, as they left nine runners on base and hit into two double plays. They also struck out 10 times against Glasnow, who pitched six innings and allowed four runs. The Orioles’ offense also missed Trey Mancini, who was out with a hamstring injury.
Orioles face do-or-die situation in Game 3
The Orioles are now down 2-0 in the best-of-five series, and they will have to win three straight games to advance to the ALCS. They will face the Rangers again on Monday in Arlington, where they will send John Means to the mound against Dane Dunning.
Means, who had a 3.42 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 172 innings this season, will try to keep the Orioles’ hopes alive and extend their season. He pitched well against the Rangers in two regular season starts, allowing three runs in 12 innings.
The Orioles will also hope that their offense can continue to produce against Dunning, who had a 4.26 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 139 innings this season. Dunning struggled against the Orioles in one regular season start, giving up five runs in five innings.
The Orioles will need to play their best baseball to overcome the odds and beat the Rangers on their home turf. They will also need to avoid any mistakes or mental lapses that could cost them the game. The Orioles have shown resilience and determination throughout the season, and they will need to show it again on Monday.