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Garver grand slam as Rangers leave Orioles on the brink

Mitch Garver blasted a third-inning grand slam as the Texas Rangers moved to within one win of ending the Baltimore Orioles’ postseason campaign on Sunday.

Designated hitter Garver’s 419-foot homer over the left-field wall powered Texas to an early 9-2 lead before they went on to complete an 11-8 victory at Camden Yards.

The win leaves Texas 2-0 up in the best-of-five American League Division Series, meaning the Rangers can complete a sweep when the series heads back to their home stadium for game three on Tuesday.

“These playoff games, one swing can change it,” Garver said afterwards of his grand slam. “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 defeat came as a bitter blow for the top-seeded Orioles, who earned the best regular-season record in the American League at 101-61 to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

“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 played well on the road all year, so hopefully we can play well on the road.”

Baltimore, looking to level the series after defeat in game one, made a solid start as Aaron Hicks singled in the bottom of the first to score Ryan Mountcastle and Gunnar Henderson for a 2-0 lead.

But the Rangers came roaring back in the top of the second with Leody Taveras doubling to drive in runs for Nathaniel Lowe and Josh Jung.

Garver then singled to send Taveras across the plate for a 3-2 lead before Adolis Garcia and Jonah Heim singled in quick succession to stretch the Rangers lead further at 5-2.

Garver’s grand slam in the third pushed the lead to 9-2 and there was no way back for Baltimore, who managed to cut the lead to five runs in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a Jorge Mateo single and a Mountcastle sacrifice fly.

Garver grounded into a double play to put Texas 10-4 ahead in the fifth inning, before Henderson’s home run for the Orioles made it 10-5.

Marcus Semien’s ground ball in the top of the ninth allowed Texas to take an 11-5 lead and although Hicks smashed a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to get the Orioles within three runs, it was too little too late.

In Sunday’s other game, the Minnesota Twins roared back against the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros with a 6-2 win on the road in Texas.

The result knotted the best-of-five series at 1-1 as the teams head back to Minnesota for game three on Tuesday.

Former Astros slugger Carlos Correa was the star for the Twins, making three hits and driving in three runs to give Minnesota a vital victory.

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