Inspired by Taylor Swift re-releasing her own songs as (Taylor’s version), Camden Chat writers will be spending the rest of 2023 re-releasing some Orioles game recaps and giving them better endings. This recap imagines that Baltimore squeaked out Game 1 of the ALDS against the Rangers. Could the entire playoffs have swung from that result?
Anthony Santander played a pivotal role in the Orioles’ rebuild. The former Rule 5 selection debuted in 2017 and tolerated several years of losing. He outlasted trade rumors, overcame injuries, and emerged as a leader in a young clubhouse. Finally, after several years of waiting, Santander made it to the postseason.
The 29-year-old made the most of his first opportunity.
Santander cut a 3-1 deficit in half with a solo homer in the sixth. He returned to the plate in the bottom of the eighth with the Birds still trailing by one. What he did next sent Camden Yards into an absolute frenzy.
Aroldis Chapman battled control issues all season, and the flame-thrower struggled to find the strike zone early in the eighth inning. Austin Hays and Adley Rutschman both worked walks to start the frame before Santander stepped to the plate.
Chapman bounced a slider to begin the at-bat. Jonah Heim managed to block the ball, but the pitch only further encouraged Santander to sit dead red. Chapman followed with a heater and the designated hitter did not miss.
Santander, batting from the right side, turned the pitch down the left field line. Hays easily scored to tie the game, and Rutschman showed the world his above average speed. The ball trickled all the way to the left field corner, and Rutschman beat the relay throw to provide Baltimore its first lead of the game.
With the best closer in baseball stuck on the sidelines, the Orioles turned to left-hander Cionel Pérez to protect the lead in the ninth. Pérez wisely worked around Corey Seager before generating a perfect double play ball from Robbie Grossman.
Double plays can absolutely sink a team in a one-run game. Fortunately for Baltimore, the club found itself on the right side of a 5-4-3 rally killer. Adolis García represented the Rangers last chance, but Pérez struck him out with three straight sliders to clinch the victory for the Orioles.
Baltimore still had Pérez available for the ninth after Brandon Hyde made the decision to trust his starter. Kyle Bradish allowed a pair of runs in the fourth and relinquished a leadoff single in the fifth. Bradish recovered by striking out the next two he faced, but Hyde and Danny Coulombe warming to face Evan Carter.
Hyde elected to trust his Cy Young candidate. Bradish retired Carter to end the fifth and returned for a scoreless sixth inning. Tyler Wells allowed a run in relief, but DL Hall retired all six batters that he faced.
The come-from-behind thriller marked the first playoff victory in the Mike Elias era. The victory provided Baltimore some much needed wiggle room with rooke Grayson Rodriguez set to make his postseason debut tomorrow. Even if Rodriguez struggles, the Orioles will have three games to get back on track. The win all but guarantees that Bradish could return in a Game 4 situation if necessary.
Both of these teams look like World Series contenders, and it’s very possible that the Game 1 winner could go on to win the whole thing. Baltimore holds the momentum at the moment, and Texas is one loss away from facing serious concerns regarding their ability to win on the road in the postseason.
Rodriguez will face Jordan Montgomery in Game 2 at 4:07 pm.
The Orioles have not been swept in 92 consecutive series.