ARLINGTON, Texas — For nearly every member of this Orioles team, the situation they find themselves in ahead of Game 3 of the American League Division Series is foreign. That’s because, for so many of them, even being in the postseason at all is a first-time experience that could quickly end should their performances not rapidly change.
One of them, though, knows what this feels like.
And he knows how to turn a back-against-the-wall situation into a rare comeback. He’s done it before, after all.
Six years ago, when Aaron Hicks was still a member of the Yankees, New York found itself down 0-2 in the best-of-five ALDS series against Cleveland. The Yankees stormed back to win the next three games, becoming just the 10th team in Major League Baseball to turn around a two-game deficit in a five-game postseason series.
That 2017 squad is still the most recent in MLB to accomplish the feat. To Hicks, though, there are similarities between that Yankees team and this Orioles team — similarities that could allow Baltimore to become the 11th team to accomplish the 0-2 turnaround.
“We understood what kind of team we are,” Hicks said. “We understood we were a dangerous team that can score in many ways, and we believed in each other, and that’s what you have to do.”
The Orioles will try to carry a similar mantra into Tuesday night (8:03 p.m. ET, FOX) against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field, aiming to become one of the few teams in postseason histories to complete a wild turnaround.
Before the 2017 Yankees — who lost the opening games in Cleveland — the most recent team to lose the first two games at home and go on to advance was the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015. They did it against the Rangers.
There’s precedence, at least. Even if it’s few and far between.
“We understand that we can’t lose anymore,” Hicks said. “We just gotta take it game by game, doing everything possible to win each game. Understanding that little things win ballgames, and you have to do your best to get the job done. If there’s a man on second and no outs, you have to find a way to get him to third and from third, in. Being able to understand the game and know how to score runs is what this team is able to do.”
Baltimore crumbled in a Game 2 loss not because of its offense. The Orioles fought back in a game in which their pitchers walked 11 batters and allowed 11 runs. They chased Texas left-hander Jordan Montgomery with five runs against him before Hicks launched a three-run homer in the ninth to narrow the score further.
“You can tell this lineup wasn’t giving up,” Hicks said.
And as the Orioles consider their season, they point to other examples of two-game losing streaks that have led to much-needed recoveries. In a race for the American League East championship, Baltimore dropped the first two games in a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays in September before winning the final two matchups.
The Orioles haven’t been swept in 91 straight series, either, dating back to 2022.
“I think we’ve played a lot of games similar to this that were important that caused us to bounce back,” right-hander Kyle Gibson said. “This team’s pretty resilient. They’re young, but they’ve got a lot of experience this year when it comes to playing in big games. So, none, obviously, as big as the one tomorrow.”
A pitfall for a team to fall into would be thinking of the whole rather than the first hurdle. Baltimore needs to win three games. But it won’t have a chance to win three games if it doesn’t win Tuesday’s Game 3.
In 2017, the Yankees won a 1-0 game over Cleveland. That kept their season alive until their next do-or-die game.
The Orioles must follow a similar step-by-step mindset to climb out of this hole, and Hicks knows it all too well.
“While we’re here, we gotta win tomorrow,” Hicks said. “And then from then on, we go from there. That’s kind of how we go about it. You can’t think about: We gotta win all three. You gotta focus on one thing and one thing only.”