The Baltimore Orioles won an American League-best 101 games in the regular season, but the postseason has been troublesome.
The Orioles will aim to avoid being swept in the AL Division Series on Tuesday night when they battle the streaking Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the best-of-five series in Arlington, Texas.
It will be the first home game of the playoffs for Texas, which is 4-0 on the road, including 3-2 and 11-8 victories in Baltimore.
Nobody needs to inform Orioles manager Brandon Hyde that his club faces a tough predicament.
“I think everybody is very aware of the situation that we’re in right now, and I think it’s going to be a real positive message going into tomorrow,” Hyde said during a press conference on Monday. “But we’ve been really consistent all year. We’ve had two bad games in a row before where we haven’t won. No different here, except for the season’s on the line.”
Said Orioles standout rookie Gunnar Henderson: “Just go out there and play Baltimore baseball. I feel like if we continue to do that, it’s going to work out for us.”
The Rangers are looking to finish off the Orioles in their first home contest since Sept. 24. They concluded the regular season with a seven-game West Coast road trip before playing two road games against the Tampa Bay Rays in the wild-card round, then the two in Baltimore.
“It seems like we’ve been on the road for a month,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said.
Bochy also said Mitch Garver will have a spot in the Rangers’ lineup after hitting a grand slam and driving in five as the designated hitter during Sunday’s 11-8 win in Game 2. Garver didn’t get a single at-bat in Texas’ first three postseason games.
“I’ll say this: If you hit a grand slam, you’re in there the next day,” Bochy said.
That revelation sounded just fine to Garver.
“I feel like anytime I’m in the lineup, I can contribute,” Garver said. “But at the end of the day, whatever lineup is out there, I’ve got to trust 1 through 9.”
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 1.35 ERA) will start Game 3 for the Rangers.
Eovaldi allowed 12 runs in 8 1/3 innings while splitting his final two regular-season starts but bounced back in the clinching Game 2 of the AL wild-card series against the Rays. He struck out eight without a walk and allowed one run and six hits over 6 2/3 innings.
The 33-year-old is 8-2 with a 3.23 ERA in 18 career starts against Baltimore. Ryan Mountcastle (6-for-18) and Austin Hays (8-for-25) have fared well against him, while Aaron Hicks (4-for-23) and Anthony Santander (4-for-21) have struggled.
“I try to never take any team for granted,” Eovaldi said. “I want to go out there and pitch the way I know I can pitch. I said it a lot, I go out and have my game plan and use my strengths against their weakness and go from there.”
Right-hander Dean Kremer (13-5, 4.12 ERA regular season) gets the ball for the Orioles. He’s ready to fight off butterflies over the biggest start of his life.
“So far, they haven’t hit me yet,” Kremer said. “I think they’ll hit me at some point in the morning. Just kind of treat it like every other start. That’s what I’m planning on doing and hope it goes that way.”
Kremer last pitched on Sept. 28 when he blanked the Boston Red Sox on two hits over 5 1/3 innings in a 2-0 victory.
Kremer, 27, lost to Texas on May 27 when he gave up three runs and five hits over 6 1/3 innings. Overall, he’s 0-1 with a 5.17 ERA in three career starts versus the Rangers.
Garver (2-for-4) and Marcus Semien (4-for-12) both have homered off Kremer.