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Mitch Garver’s grand slam helps Rangers take 2-0 series edge over Orioles

BALTIMORE — Mitch Garver hit a grand slam, Cody Bradford tossed 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief and the Texas Rangers held on to beat the Baltimore Orioles 11-8 on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five American League Division Series.

The Rangers have won four straight in this postseason and will host Game 3 on Tuesday night.

Garver added an RBI single in his first action of this postseason. Josh Jung had a double and a single and scored twice, and Leody Taveras had a two-run double and scored three times for Texas.

“Biggest thing in postseason is putting the ball in play, working counts, but swinging at good pitches,” Garver said. “And I think we did that the first two games, and we need to continue that heading into Texas.”

Aaron Hicks’ three-run homer off Jose Leclerc in the bottom of the ninth pulled the Orioles within 11-8. Hicks finished with five RBIs.

In his first year with Texas, manager Bruce Bochy has the Rangers on the verge of reaching their first American League Championship Series since 2011.
Meanwhile, the top-seeded Orioles, who went 52-26 from July 5 to the end of the regular season — and went the entire season without being swept in a series — are facing elimination.

“We’re pretty confident,” Hicks said of the Orioles’ confidence level. “We’re out there scoring runs. We’re doing everything possible to try and win these games. They outscored us today. We’ve just got to keep pushing forward because we can’t lose again.”

The Orioles had 16 winning streaks of at least three games during the regular season.

Baltimore pitchers allowed 11 hits and walked 11 batters, six of whom scored. Corey Seager walked five times — an MLB postseason record — and scored twice.

“Our backs are against the wall right now and tonight wasn’t our best night on the mound,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “We have to go to Texas and play well. We haven’t played our two best games here. We played well on the road all year, so hopefully we can play well on the road.”

Rookie Gunnar Henderson homered and singled, and Jorge Mateo had four hits for the Orioles.

Bradford (1-0), a rookie, allowed three hits and struck out four.

“What a job he did,” Bochy said. “The momentum was starting to switch there and he came in, and he’s pounding the strike zone very well. With all of the pitches, working all quadrants. He’s so prepared.”

Starter Jordan Montgomery was lifted after four-plus innings, having allowed five runs — four earned — on nine hits. He walked one and struck out two.

Orioles starter Grayson Rodriguez (0-1), who enjoyed a stellar second half of his rookie season, was pulled after allowing five runs on six hits and four walks in 1 2/3 innings.

“Really just kind of struggled to get into a groove,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously spraying fastballs and not being able to have that in the zone consistently wasn’t working for me.”

In the Baltimore first, Ryan Mountcastle singled and, with two outs, Henderson singled and Austin Hays walked. Hicks poked a single to right, scoring Mountcastle and Henderson to make it 2-0.

Texas answered with a five-run second. After Nathaniel Lowe walked and Jung singled, Taveras doubled them home to tie the score. Semien grounded out, but Seager walked. Garver hit a tapper in front of the plate and beat Rodriguez’s lob throw to first while Taveras scored. Adolis Garcia and Jonah Heim added RBI singles to make it 5-2.

In the third, reliever Bryan Baker walked three straight hitters with one out. Jacob Webb came on and Garver greeted him with a grand slam on a 3-1 fastball, increasing the lead to 9-2.

“These playoff games, one swing can change it,” Garver said. “And I got into a situation there in the hitter’s count where I was looking for the fastball and I was able to get it. I think it’s just a big momentum push for our whole team. And we needed all those runs today.”

The Orioles pulled within 9-4 when Jordan Westburg led off the fourth with a double and scored on Mateo’s single. Mateo scored on Mountcastle’s sacrifice fly.

–By Harvey Valentine, Field Level Media

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