Overcoming a 2-0 deficit? Hicks, O's know it can be done

October 10th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Jake Rill’s Orioles Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ARLINGTON -- Aaron Hicks is confident the Orioles can climb out of an 0-2 hole to beat the Rangers in the best-of-five American League Division Series. Why? Because the 34-year-old outfielder was part of a team that did exactly that.

In 2017, Hicks’ Yankees lost Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS vs. Cleveland before bouncing back to win Games 3, 4 and 5. New York advanced to the AL Championship Series, in which it lost to the Astros in a seven-game series.

Even though the Yanks were on the cusp of elimination early in the postseason that year, they remained confident in the abilities that led them to 91 wins and an AL Wild Card berth.

“We understood what kind of team we were. We understood that we were a dangerous team that can score in many ways, and we believed in each other,” said Hicks, who went 6-for-19 (.316) with a double, a homer and four RBIs in the 2017 ALDS. “That’s what you’re going to have to do.”

It’s what the 2023 Orioles are going to have to do, or else their incredible season -- which has featured 101 regular-season wins, their first AL East title since ‘14 and their first postseason berth since ‘16 -- will have a disappointing conclusion.

Baltimore must take Tuesday’s Game 3 at Globe Life Field to force Game 4 in Arlington on Wednesday, which will be another must-win contest. If the O’s are victorious then, they can force a winner-take-all Game 5 at Camden Yards on Friday.

“We understand that we can’t lose anymore,” Hicks said. “We’ve just got to take game by game, doing everything possible to win each game.”

It’s not impossible, but this type of comeback hasn’t happened often. In fact, one hasn’t occurred since the 2017 Yankees. However, they lost Games 1 and 2 on the road and got to come home for Games 3 and 4. This year’s Orioles dropped the first two games at home and are now heading into a hostile environment in Arlington for Game 3 and a potential Game 4.

In all best-of-five postseason series, teams that have taken a 2-0 lead have gone on to win 78 of 88 times (89 percent). In Division Series with the current 2-2-1 format, 14 of the 16 clubs (88 percent) to win Games 1 and 2 on the road have advanced, 10 via sweep.

The most recent team to win Games 1 and 2 of a Division Series on the road and then go on to lose the series was the 2015 Rangers, who blew a 2-0 lead in the ALDS vs. the Blue Jays.

Baltimore is hoping history will repeat itself for Texas, which is 4-0 this postseason after previously sweeping the best-of-three AL Wild Card Series at Tampa Bay, 2-0.

“We've won three games in a row quite a bit this year. I feel like we've played really well on the road this year,” O’s manager Brandon Hyde said. “We've kind of had our backs up against the wall before where we’ve felt like we needed some must-win games, and we're in that situation right now, unfortunately.

“But I feel good about our club. I think we're going to play good baseball here.”

The Orioles had 16 winning streaks of three or more games during the regular season. They went 52-29 on the road, tied with the Braves for the best away record in MLB. They’ve been resilient and shown the ability to bounce back plenty before.

But, as Hicks knows from experience, Baltimore can’t look past Tuesday’s Game 3. Otherwise, the O’s won’t be playing on Wednesday.

“You can’t think about, ‘We’ve got to win all three,’” Hicks said. “You’ve got to focus on one thing and one thing only.”