For the first time in 19 years the Baltimore Orioles hosted a playoff game despite the rain which delayed the start of their American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers.
It had also been seven years since the franchise played a role in the hunt for October glory.
However, once the rain moved out, the Rangers took control of the best of five series with a 3-2 win that turned the bedlam of Baltimore into a funeral procession by the time the shadows took over the ballpark.
Marcus Semien Slump Continues
Orioles Park at Camden Yards was an electric orange sea as one of the new school legends of Charm City baseball threw out the day’s first pitch.
Adam Jones, who officially signed a temporary contract then retired as an Oriole last month, sent the crowd into a frenzy that lasted until the Rangers figured out Orioles starter Kyle Bradish as their offense went into a post season slumber.
The MLBbros in both uniforms struggled mightily at the plate.
Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien went 0-for-5 following his 2-for-17 performance in the wildcard series.
Semien still remains at the top of the order as Texas continues to win without his offense.
However, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde needs to light a fuse under a team that stumbled to the finish line offensively after clinching the American League East Division title and the top seed in the junior circuit’s playoffs.
Cedric Mullins & Aaron Hicks Bats Cold In ALDS Game 1
Aaron Hicks and Cedric Mullins were slotted in the 6th and 8th holes in the lineup and couldn’t deliver on Saturday. Collectively, they finished the game 0-for-5 with two walks.
“We just need to get some early runs,” Hyde said. “Even the last week or so of the season we’ve just had a tough time kind of scoring early.”
The Rangers could’ve made things easier for themselves, but they couldn’t break the game open in the fourth inning.
With the bases loaded and two outs Semien, a player with seven career grand slams, struck out.
Overall, Texas left 10 runners on base. Despite his struggles, however, Manager Bruce Bochy remains confident in his slumping second baseman.
Suddenly, the Orioles magical season could turn into a nightmare quickly if they lose to the Rangers again on Sunday.
Traditionally, teams that lose game one in the Division Series at home win that series less than 30 percent of the time.
However, if the regular season proves to be any indication, this will be a long series. Baltimore is very resilient team and the squads solid their six games earlier this year.
Fast forward nine years, and the Orioles now boast three black faces in the form of Cedric Mullins, Aaron Hicks, and Jack Flaherty and after defeating the Nationals 5-1 on Wednesday night, they can clinch the AL East division for the first time since 2014 with a win on Thursday.
“I’m extremely impressed by the grit of our team, how tough they are, how we continue to battle,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
As the Orioles set their sights on the division and ultimately reaching the World Series for the first time since 1983, these three MLBbros will undoubtedly be at the forefront of their efforts. However, their success will hinge on their ability to elevate their performance when it matters most.
“The attitude for each of us is that we’re going to be the ones to [get the job done],” Mullins said. “If not us, we know we’re passing it to the next guy, and that’s how the clubhouse scene has been. Just having faith in each other and trust in each other that we’re going to get it done.”
Cedric “CM Storm” Mullins
Mullins, the defensive linchpin of the team as the center fielder and a seasoned veteran who has battled through injuries, faces a pressing challenge. He has struggled at the plate recently, managing just one hit in his last 20 at-bats. Mullins’s defensive prowess will remain crucial, but his offensive contributions will be vital in propelling the Orioles deep into the playoffs.
“He’s a top-tier center fielder, one of the best in the league,” right-hander Kyle Bradish said. “Whenever he’s out there, the ball goes up, you think he’s going to get there.”
“Black” Jack Flaherty
Flaherty, acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline, has had a rough transition to the Orioles. With a 1-3 record and a 6.68 ERA over eight games (including seven starts) and 33 and two-thirds innings pitched, Flaherty is determined to find his groove. The opposition has hit .308 against him during this span. Baltimore is counting on Flaherty’s talent to shine through as he adapts to his new surroundings and steps up in critical postseason moments.
“It’s been a lot of, ‘Do what you do,’ and, ‘Pitch the way you know how to pitch, and things will go well,’” Flaherty said of the message he’s received in Baltimore. “So that’s a good feeling to have when things kind of haven’t worked out.”
Aaron “The Avenger” Hicks
Hicks, who found himself cut loose by the Yankees earlier this season, has experienced a resurgence since returning from the injured list. In September, he boasts an impressive .351 batting average with 11 RBIs. However, he must maintain his productivity when the playoff spotlight shines brightest in October.
“We don’t have a ton of older veteran presence in our lineup, and so I was hoping that he could come here and just maybe play easy and play like he has nothing to lose, and he did that,” Hyde said.
The Orioles’ resurgence is a testament to their rebuilding efforts, especially their potent farm system that built a team capable of making a deep playoff run. But for Mullins, Hicks, and Flaherty, the limelight may shine brighter with a fanbase yearning for representation of the area to succeed.
Only one of Charm City’s top 30 prospects, Enrique Bradfield Jr., is an MLBbro. This makes it imperative for the trio to showcase their abilities on the postseason stage. In doing so, they not only contribute to their playoff aspirations but also ensure that the pipeline of talent continues to grow in marginalized communities and the culturally rich city of Baltimore.
The Baltimore Orioles officially clinched a spot in the postseason Sunday for the first time since 2016. While the excitement around this achievement is palpable, it also serves as a poignant reminder of a bygone era in Orioles baseball, personified by the legendary MLBbro Adam Jones. And as Baltimore embarks on their postseason journey, it is evident that the torch has been passed to a new generation, led by none other than MLBbro Cedric Mullins.
Jones, a transcendent athlete, five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glover, and Silver Slugger, was the heart and soul of Orioles baseball for over a decade. Jones’s contributions and memorable moments, both for Team USA and at Camden Yards, will forever be etched in the hearts of Orioles fans.
In a symbolic gesture, Jones retired as an Oriole on Sept. 15, despite his last season on the field being in 2019. His retirement ceremony marked the end of an epoch, and his handing over the reins to the next Black staple center fielder in Mullins signaled a new beginning for the Orioles.
However, the rebuild began long before Jones’ retirement.
On Aug. 10, 2018, Jones stepped aside to allow the rookie Mullins to take center stage, symbolizing the transition of leadership.
He mentored and shared his wisdom with young talents who would later become instrumental in the Orioles’ resurgence in 2023. Players like Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, and Mullins benefited from Jones’s guidance during the challenging years of rebuilding.
“When we started to really stink in the summer of ‘17, and again in ‘18, I tried to let the young guys who were coming up — once we did all the trades — let them know that the big leagues are tough,” said Jones, who played 11 of his 14 MLB seasons for Baltimore. “’I’m not going to be this rude veteran to you guys. I’m going to try and explain the game in a crash course because we’re all going to be gone after these two months.’”
“So I just tried to explain to those guys how the Major League life is and give them the best advice I could.”
Following their clinched postseason spot, Hays, Mullins, and Santander reflected on their journey with unanimous jubilation, declaring in unison, “We did it!”
“They are leading this charge,” Jones said. “You hear them talk, they’ve been through the tough years. And to see what they have now, it’s fun that they’re getting to lead it. There’s nothing better than when you go through the mud and then you get out.”
Mullins is resilient, much like Jones during his early days in the league. After returning from the injured list on Aug. 11, he struggled initially but has since risen to the occasion. Now fully healthy, he’s returned to true captain form, making an impact offensively and with his glove. In the crucial month of September, he’s batting .268 with two doubles, three homers, and 16 RBI, heating up just in time for the Orioles’ quest for their first postseason win since 2014.
“This is something I’ve always dreamed about,” Mullins said. “For us to be able to come back from previous years, and now we’re here, it feels amazing.”
Mullins and teammates embody the grit and determination that comes with the Baltimore faithful while bringing their own fun and flavor to the game.
The future of Orioles baseball is bright, and it’s clear that Jones has played an indelible role in shaping that future. And there might not be a better player to carry the Orioles legacy than Mullins.