Twelve Orioles Thoughts following ALDS Game 2 loss to Texas

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With the Orioles losing 11-8 to the Texas Rangers in Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Sunday evening, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. After not hitting in the series opener, the Orioles simply didn’t pitch in Game 2, surrendering 11 hits and a season-high 11 walks, which tied for the third most in postseason history. Even the best pitchers are knocked around occasionally, but not throwing strikes on this stage was just excruciating. 

2. What a disappointing playoff debut for Grayson Rodriguez, who was one of the AL’s best pitchers in the second half to earn this opportunity. Unfortunately, what we saw Sunday was the type of outing that earned him the demotion to Norfolk in late May. The command simply wasn’t there. 

3. After escaping a bases-loaded jam in the first and being staked to a 2-0 lead in the bottom half of the inning, you hoped Rodriguez would settle in. Instead, the game was tied less than 10 minutes later, and the rookie was out of the game soon thereafter. 

4. Trailing 5-2 and knowing relief pitching would have to cover 7 1/3 innings after Rodriguez’s early exit, Brandon Hyde and the Orioles had to figure they’d probably need double-digit runs to win this one. The bats battled, but this bullpen simply doesn’t have enough quality arms. 

5. Acknowledging that and the lack of appealing alternatives, Bryan Baker being part of the postseason bullpen with only one major league appearance after July 29 was as curious as any roster decision made by Mike Elias and Hyde. Just five of his 24 pitches were strikes in that third inning. 

6. As recently as two or three weeks ago, Jacob Webb was viewed as one of Baltimore’s most trustworthy relievers in the wake of Felix Bautista’s injury. The grand slam allowed to Mitch Garver was the second in Rangers’ postseason history, the first coming from old friend Nelson Cruz in 2011. 


7. Aaron Hicks did his best to atone for missing a hit-and-run sign in Game 1 with his two-run single in the opening inning. He added a three-run homer in the ninth, but it was too little, too late after Rangers manager Bruch Bochy leaned heavily on his left-handed pitching.  

8. Sporting an abrasion by his right eye that came from his terrific slide to score in the first inning, Gunnar Henderson joined Manny Machado (2012) and Ryan Flaherty (2012) as the only rookies to homer in Orioles postseason history. His bat came alive in Game 2.

9. Go figure that Jorge Mateo would have his only four-hit game of 2023 in the first postseason start of his career after he batted .179 with a .472 OPS from the beginning of May through the end of the regular season. Apparently Mateo prefers hitting in April and October. 

10. It’s easy to wonder if the Orioles weren’t quite ready for this stage, but we’ve seen them rebound over and over. Baltimore won 52 road games and had 16 winning streaks of at least three games this season, which is why winning two in Texas isn’t impossible. It’ll be tough.

11. With Jack Flaherty relegated to long relief and Shintaro Fujinami off the ALDS roster entirely, it’s not exactly a reach to call the trade deadline a big whiff for Elias. That doesn’t discount the tremendous job he’s done overall, but there were other ways to augment this roster. 

12. It’s tough to recall too many local sports weekends beginning with such electricity and concluding with such a thud. I’d say the Ravens’ ugly loss in Pittsburgh brought more disgust while the Orioles dropping the first two games of the ALDS at home was more disappointing than anything. 

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