The 2023 Orioles’ season is over. Their exciting and unexpected 101-win season came crashing to a halt at the hands of the Texas Rangers. For the second straight game, the starting pitching fell apart early on. But unlike on Sunday, the offense didn’t put up much of a fight. The end result was a lopsided 7-1 loss.
It was a terrible game almost from the get-go and it capped off an almost universally terrible postseason. Knowing anything can happen in the postseason and watching your team fall apart at the worst possible time are two very different things.
For those of us who have watched this team in some capacity over the course of our lifetimes, this team felt really special. My brain tells me that they’re still special. Maybe in a week or two, my heart will catch up. Because right now it’s the worst I’ve felt about this team that I love in a long time, and they have put me through some pretty crappy things over the years.
Anyway, nothing left to do but recap the final game of the 2023 season. I don’t blame you if you don’t want to read the whole thing.
The team’s hopes were pinned to starting pitcher Dean Kremer. But Kremer didn’t last even two innings, getting pulled with two outs in the second after giving up six runs.
Kremer’s trouble started in the very first inning, though he ultimately gave up just one run via a Corey Seager homer. He allowed two other hits, though, and threw 22 pitches. To those of us clinging to hope, we thought it wasn’t too bad. If only he could straighten up after the first, the Orioles still had a chance. But it wasn’t long before even those thin hopes were obliterated.
Kremer retired the first batter of the inning, but he paid a steep price. Nathaniel Lowe took two strikes to start the AB but fought back after that. He ended up fouling off nine pitches and working the count to 3-2 before he flew out on the 15th pitch. Not being able to finish off a batter after getting ahead plagued Kremer in his brief start.
Josh Jung singled and then, with two outs Kremer went 0-2 on Marcus Semien before he doubled. An intentional walk to Seager loaded the based ahead of Mitch Garver, who hit a grand slam on Sunday. This time he “only” doubled to make the score 3-0. He left the homering up to Adolis García, who launched a three-run shot to make the score 6-0 and drive Kremer from the game. Kremer had been ahead in the count 1-2.
Tyler Wells came in to pitch in relief as Kremer watched miserably from the bench. Wells was good, but it was too late. He finished the second inning and pitched the third as well, allowing just one baserunner on a bloop single to center field.
The Orioles batters were unable to do much with Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi. They certainly weren’t up to the task of scoring six runs against him. Through seven innings the Orioles managed just five hits, all singles, against Eovaldi. They didn’t walk a single time. He was dealing and they couldn’t break through against him.
Three of those five singles against Eovaldi came with two outs in the inning. Santander did it with two outs in the first. Gunnar Henderson with two outs in the third. And Ryan O’Hearn with two outs in the fourth. It was only in the fifth inning that they strung together two hits in an inning, which is when their only run scored.
With one out, Jordan Westburg singled and moved to second on a ground out by Adam Frazier. With the runner in scoring position, Henderson lined a hit to right field. Westburg scored to break up the shutout. But that wasn’t enough and Eovaldi went on to pitch two more perfect innings before coming out of the game.
Henderson ended up having a pretty good series, not that it mattered much. Despite Bruce Bochy’s doing almost everything he could to keep Henderson from facing a righty in the first two games, Henderson ended the series with 6-for-12 with a walk and a home run.
After Kremer and Wells, Kyle Gibson came on to pitch. He was in contention to start tonight’s game, which made me feel a bit conflicted. On one hand, I obviously wanted him to pitch well. It was still early with time to come back. But I knew that if Gibson did pitch well and the Orioles didn’t come back, I would struggle with the what-if of it all.
Gibson was pretty good. He pitched three innings, the only blemish a solo home run from Lowe. Not bad for the old man of the team in what was probably his final game for the Orioles.
Gibby was followed by DL Hall, who struck out three in 1.2 innings. It was a good series for Hall, who made two appearances totaling 3.1 innings. He didn’t allow a run and struck out six.
Yennier Cano came in with two outs in the eighth and gave up an infield hit that was almost a spectacular play by Henderson, then retired Leody Taveras on a fly ball.
After Eovaldi triumphantly exited, the Rangers turned to Aroldis Chapman for the eighth inning. Once again he wasn’t good and once again it didn’t end up mattering as far as the final score.
Pinch hitter Jorge Mateo struck out ahead of Gunnar Henderson’s third hit of the game. I really wanted Adley Rutschman to do something as he has been totally MIA in this series. He took a few good hacks but flew out for the second out. He ended his first ALDS with just one hit in 12 ABs.
As Chapman often does, he lost control and walked both Anthony Santander and Ryan Mountcastle. Bochy wasn’t going to let it go any further and he brought in José Leclerc to shut things down. Pinch hitter Aaron Hicks worked a full count but grounded out to end the inning.
Leclerc returned for the ninth inning and wasted no time wrapping up the win for the Rangers. Austin Hays popped out in the infield. Cedric Mullins grounded out to second on the first pitch. And Jordan Westburg struck out on three pitches to end the game and all of the Orioles’ postseason hopes.