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Tuesday Bird Droppings: It’s win-or-go-home time for the Orioles

One more loss to the Rangers would end this great O’s season, maybe as soon as tonight. Let’s not let that happen.

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Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles
Help us, Dean Kremer. You’re our only hope.
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

(deep, heavy sigh)

Welp. Here goes nothing.

The Orioles’ fantastic 2023 season is in danger of coming to a crushing end tonight. Only a win in Texas this evening will allow the Birds to stave off elimination for another day. Then they’ll need to do it again tomorrow. And Friday. There’s no margin for error anymore, and the outlook is bleak.

It’s not impossible for the O’s to pull off the feat, of course; they’ve won three games in a row countless times during their 101-win campaign. But to do it in the postseason, against a red-hot team like the Rangers, will be a tall order. Not since the 2015 Blue Jays has a team gone on the road with an 0-2 deficit in a best-of-five series and gone on to win the series. (They did it against the Rangers, if that helps.)

How bitterly ironic it would be if the Orioles — who played the entire 2023 regular season without being swept, and are currently riding a 91-series sweepless streak — were to get bounced out of the playoffs by...getting swept. How devastating it would be if the winningest O’s team in 44 years didn’t pick up a single victory in the postseason. And how frustrating it would be if the Birds, after their remarkable ascent to the top of the AL East, end up with the same number of playoff wins this year as the Yankees and Red Sox (and Rays and Blue Jays, for that matter).

So do us a solid, Orioles. If you’re going to get beat in this series, don’t do it tonight. Give us one measly playoff game victory to bask in, at least for 24 hours. O’s fans haven’t had one to celebrate since 2014. And hey, if you wanted to go ahead and win tomorrow, too, to send the series back to Baltimore for a decisive Game 5, all the better.

It’ll be up to Dean Kremer to keep the Orioles alive tonight while the Rangers counter with Nathan Eovaldi, looking to punch their ticket to the ALCS in front of their home fans at Globe Life Field. Let’s go, Orioles. I’m not ready for this season to end just yet.


The Orioles are in an ALDS bind. Aaron Hicks knows what it takes for an improbable turnaround. - The Baltimore Banner
Hicks played for the 2017 Yankees, who came back from an 0-2 deficit to win the Division Series (though they played Games 3 and 4 at home instead of on the road). Maybe he’ll be the good luck charm to lead the 2023 Orioles to a similar comeback.

O’s Ryan O’Hearn: “I’m not ready to be done playing with these guys for the year” - Steve Melewski
Aw. Come on, Orioles, don’t make Ryan O’Hearn sad. You need to win!

Lack of high-impact trades haunt Orioles in second ALDS loss to Rangers: Ghiroli - The Athletic
I agree that the Orioles should have made more of a splash for pitching at the deadline, although it probably wouldn’t have made a difference specifically in this series so far.

Orioles’ Dean Kremer to start Game 3 of ALDS with family in Israel ‘in back of my head’ - Baltimore Sun
Kremer will be pitching with a heavy heart after the recent violence in Israel, where he lives for two months a year. Kind of puts into perspective that there are much worse things than your favorite baseball team losing.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! One current Oriole has a birthday today: happy 28th to lefty reliever Nick Vespi, who has pitched 34 games for the O’s this year and last. Vespi wasn’t included on the Division Series roster, though he couldn’t have been worse than some of the control-challenged O’s relievers who pitched in Game 2. The only other Oriole in history with an Oct. 10 birthday is the late righty Gordie Sundin (b. 1937, d. 2016). Sundin pitched in one major league game, as an 18-year-old in 1956, walking both batters he faced and allowing one run. He thus finished his MLB career with an infinity ERA.

The Orioles have played six postseason games on this date in history. They won the first four — in 1970, 1973, 1979, and 1996 — but lost the most recent two (2012 and 2014). We’ll ignore those last two and focus on the others.

In 1970, the O’s opened the World Series against the Reds with an eventful Game 1 victory in Cincinnati, 4-3. Hall of Famer Jim Palmer came one out shy of a complete game, holding the Reds to three runs in 8.2 innings. Palmer got major help from third baseman Brooks Robinson, who began his epic World Series by making an incredible play ranging into foul territory to rob Lee May. The O’s were also helped by a blown call from home plate umpire Ken Burkhardt, who called Bernie Carbo out at the plate even though Elrod Hendricks tagged him with an empty glove. The Birds came back from a 3-0 deficit thanks to three home runs: one each by Robinson, Hendricks, and Boog Powell.

In 1973, the Orioles stayed alive in the best-of-five ALCS by beating the Athletics in Game 4, 5-4, to tie the series at two. Nine outs away from elimination and trailing by four in Oakland, the O’s pulled off a dramatic four-run, game-tying rally in the seventh off former Cy Young winner Vida Blue. A Robinson RBI single was followed by a clutch three-run homer by catcher Andy Etchebarren, and a Bobby Grich homer off Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers in the eighth pushed the Birds in front. Palmer, the Orioles’ starting pitcher, was chased in the second inning, but relievers Bob Reynolds, Eddie Watt, and Grant Jackson held down the fort to make the comeback possible.

In 1979, the O’s beat the Pirates in Game 1 of the World Series, 5-4. In front of 53,000+ fans at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, the Birds raced out to a hot start by scoring five runs in the first inning, capped by a Doug DeCinces homer. The Orioles didn’t score the rest of the game, but starter Mike Flanagan made the early lead stand up, tossing a complete game despite scattering 11 hits.

And in 1996, the Orioles beat the Yankees, 5-3, in Game 2 of the ALCS, which would turn out to be their only victory of that series. Two-run homers by Todd Zeile and Rafael Palmeiro, the latter a tie-breaking shot in the seventh, guided the O’s to a win at Yankee Stadium. Lefty David Wells — who would join the Yankees the following year — worked a quality start for the Orioles, and Armando Benitez got the final two outs for the save.