After the Orioles lost a second straight playoff game Sunday to leave their brilliant 2023 season one defeat from ending, veteran right-hander Kyle Gibson couldn’t encyclopedically recall how Baltimore followed each of its two-game losing streaks during the regular season. He remembered only how they responded to salvage a series split with the Tampa Bay Rays last month.
But on a team bus ride later that night, Gibson went through the schedule and saw, just as they did against the Rays, he and his teammates thrived at bouncing back. He believes it can help them do the same as they trail the Texas Rangers 2-0 in the best-of-five American League Division Series. The Orioles require victories in three straight elimination games to keep their season alive, beginning with Tuesday’s Game 3.
“This team,” Gibson said, “is pretty resilient.
“They’re young, but they got a lot of experience this year when it comes to playing in big games. None, obviously, as big as the one [Tuesday], but I think they’ll be able to draw on that experience.”
During their 101-win regular season, the Orioles lost two games in a row 16 times. They more often responded with at least three straight wins, doing so five times, than they suffered a third straight loss, with four such streaks.
“We’ve done this all year,” rookie infielder Gunnar Henderson said. “We’re just going to continue to go out there and play our game. There’s no pressure on us. We just need to go out there, play for fun and see what we can do.
“We’ve proved that no matter what situation we’re in we can overcome the odds. We have that confidence because we’ve proved it throughout the year.”
That Rays series was perhaps the best example. With the AL East on the line in the four-game matchup, the Orioles dropped the first two to fall into a virtual tie for the division lead. But they answered with consecutive victories, earning a series split that propelled them into the postseason and positioned them to later claim the East.
Three weeks later, the series — one of an AL-record 91 straight in which Baltimore has avoided being swept — is inspiring hope. Manager Brandon Hyde and his players have evoked it myriad times in recent days as a prime example of their resilience. After Sunday’s loss, shortstop Jorge Mateo said, “No one said it was going to be easy,” nearly echoing a quote from Hyde after the second defeat to Tampa Bay.
Ten teams in major league history have rallied from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five postseason series. Only two of them did so after losing the first two games at home in the current divisional round format.
“I think everybody is very aware of the situation that we’re in right now,” Hyde said. “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.
“We believe in our guys.”
All four of that Rays series’ games came at home, but after the Rangers won twice in front of sold-out Camden Yards crowds over the weekend, the ALDS shifts to Texas’ Globe Life Field, with the Orioles needing to win two games there to force a winner-take-all Game 5 at home. But perhaps this trip bodes well for a team that went 52-29 away from Baltimore, tied with the Atlanta Braves for the majors’ best road record during the regular season.
“For whatever reason, we’ve played really well on the road,” outfielder Austin Hays said. “I don’t know what it is about this team, but we’re kind of just road dogs, road warriors, so here we are. We need to win two games here, so it’s something we’ve done well here so we’ll just carry that into the two games here before we get back home.”
They aren’t looking to head there early.
“I’m not ready to be done playing with these guys for the year,” first baseman Ryan O’Hearn said. “I think we’ve got a lot left to give. … I don’t want to go home yet. I want to continue to play with these guys.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Jacob Calvin Meyer and Baltimore Sun Media reporter Sam Cohn contributed to this article.