ALCS – Orioles vs. Rangers
Key Storylines: Baltimore thrilled in the ALDS and the clubhouse has become infected with a winning spirit for the first time all year. With middle fingers up, the Orioles are smash-and-grabbing any momentum they can get from veterans like Adam Jones who decided to stick around with the team despite the horrible record and situation. Can the Rangers stand in the way of that or will there be heartbreak in Texas?
Game 1 – Orioles 0, Rangers 3
Game 2 – Orioles 8, Rangers 7 (F/11)
Game 3 – Rangers 9, Orioles 11
Game 4 – Rangers 5, Orioles 4
Game 5 – Rangers 12, Orioles 15 (F/13)
Game 6 – Orioles 6, Rangers 4 (BAL no-hitter thru 6, walk-off HR Joey Rickard)
Game 7 – Orioles 5, Rangers 0 (5 runs in the bottom of the 7th)
Winner: Orioles win series, 4-3
None of the analytics seems to support what happened, but the Orioles had one helluva series. While baseball is a game of mathematics, and the structure is set up so that the best team will win, there’s always the unquantifiable variable of chance. Baltimore had one of the worst wRC+ in baseball this year and the bullpen had a .312 BABIP. If you can’t create runs and don’t have a bullpen in October then there’s little hope of winning.
Yet, somehow, Adam Jones lifted this team on his back and was both a leader in the clubhouse and on the diamond. His run creation ranked right around Marwin Gonzalez and Marcell Ozuna, two guys you’d expect to see take kindly to the October stage. Jones has been here before, another factor that can’t properly be weighted, and somehow was an X-Factor in this series that helped propel Baltimore.
The series as a whole was like watching a movie that was so bad it’s good. Three games went into extra innings and four games featured walk-offs. Joey Gallo walked off Game 4 to give the Rangers a 3-1 series lead (which they proceeded to blow), Rougned Odor stole a base and was picked off trying to advance what would have been a series-winning run in Game 5, only to have the game go 13 innings where Mark Trumbo walked off Matt Moore in a relief appearance. Joey Rickard hit a walk-off in Game 6 to extend the series while the Orioles tattooed the Rangers bullpen in the final game for 5 runs in the seventh inning, another thing that was unexpected considering Texas had an above average bullpen.
A lot of bad baseball was played in this series, which almost makes it fitting that the Orioles somehow found a way to play their best ball of the year.
Series MVP: Adam Jones carried the Orioles spiritually and analytically. He might not ever play in the postseason again and if this is the last time, then his .341 average with