BALTIMORE — Nearly a decade ago, the Orioles and Texas Rangers met in the American League’s first wild-card game, and Baltimore’s 3-2 victory had no impact on either’s hopes of a return to it. Both are at the bottom of their respective divisions, down to the final games in a long 2021 season.
Yet they treated the announced 10,645 fans at Oriole Park on Saturday night to a game that was tight throughout. It took until the seventh inning for either team to score, with Trey Mancini walking and hustling around to score from first on Pat Valaika’s double. Valaika soon came home on Kelvin Gutiérrez’s home run, his first with the Orioles (50-105) narrowly clearing the right-center wall.
The Rangers (56-99) answered on the first pitch of the eighth when Jose Trevino took rookie Brooks Kriske deep, spoiling Baltimore’s pursuit of its third shutout in a week. Right-hander Chris Ellis, who missed his previous start with arm fatigue, worked the first three innings in a scheduled short start. Marcos Diplán followed with two scoreless innings, allowing a pair of runners in each frame but no runs. Joey Krehbiel, who like Ellis joined the Orioles as a waiver claim from the Tampa Bay Rays, recorded the next five outs before Kriske — named after Orioles legend Brooks Robinson — finished the seventh.
After the home run, Kriske got the first two outs of the eighth before manager Brandon Hyde asked Dillon Tate for a four-out save. With closer Tyler Wells landing on the 10-day injured list Saturday and top setup man Cole Sulser unavailable after pitching the previous two days, Tate allowed a leadoff home run to Nathaniel Lowe in the ninth but managed to record the final three outs to seal the victory.