ARLINGTON, Texas — Three wins in a row.
That’s what the Orioles need to keep their magical 2023 season alive after losing the first two games to Texas in the AL Division Series. It certainly won’t be easy as they’ll play the next two at Globe Life Field in front of a raucous crowd excited to see the red-hot Rangers for the first time in over two weeks.
“We’ve kind of had our backs up against the wall before where we feel like we needed some must-win games, and we’re in that situation right now unfortunately,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “But I feel good about our club. I think we’re going to play good baseball here.”
Yes, bouncing back is what the Orioles have done all year. Some of their best baseball of the season has immediately followed their worst stretches.
Remember when they suffered their sixth loss in seven games on the Fourth of July? Hyde’s club began a season-best eight-game winning streak the next day.
Five losses in six games in mid-September allowed Tampa Bay to move back into a first-place tie in the AL East before the Orioles won four straight against the Rays and Houston.
After another three-game losing streak late last month, Baltimore won five in a row to officially clinch its first division title in nine years.
The Orioles had 16 winning streaks of at least three games during the regular season and won three straight games immediately after a streak of two or more losses on eight different occasions. Their 52 road wins also tied Atlanta for the most in the majors this season.
In other words, you’ll forgive the Orioles if they’re not ready to throw in the towel or cower in fear over playing away from Camden Yards — even if October is different.
It starts with a single victory on Tuesday night, which would also snap Baltimore’s seven-game postseason losing streak that began against Kansas City in the 2014 AL Championship Series.
You can’t become the 11th team in baseball history to come back from a 2-0 deficit to win a best-of-five postseason series if you don’t win Game 3. We know the Orioles haven’t been swept since the weekend before Adley Rutschman’s major league debut nearly 17 months ago, and they’ll need to extend that remarkable streak to give themselves a chance to win on Wednesday, which would send the series back to Camden Yards for a Game 5 on Friday night.
If Baltimore does that, all the pressure shifts to the Rangers, who also squandered a 2-0 lead in the ALDS against Toronto in 2015.
Before the second-inning implosion of Grayson Rodriguez, the Orioles had the right idea in Game 2 by jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Staking Game 3 starter Dean Kremer to a lead before he even takes the hill for his first career postseason start would not only calm the home crowd — at least for a little bit — but it would give the Orioles a much-needed boost after the disappointment from the weekend.
Though John Means was widely expected to start Game 3 before elbow soreness left him off the ALDS roster, it’s worth noting Kremer started on the days Baltimore officially cliched a playoff berth on Sept. 17 and won the AL East on Sept. 28. Perhaps that’s the mojo the Orioles need after so much went wrong in Games 1 and 2.
“There is no tomorrow. I feel like that’s how our team plays honestly,” left fielder Austin Hays said following the Game 2 defeat. “That’s how we’ve played all year. We’re just going to play like there’s no tomorrow and play with our hair on fire and win three in a row.”