He has a simple pitching approach, too. Jurado just keeps attacking hitters with his sinking fastball, mixing in only the occasional changeup and a slider. It may be simple, but so far, so good for the right-hander in his return to the Major Leagues.
Jurado, supported by a seven-run inning in the fourth, won his second consecutive start since being called up from Double-A Frisco in the Rangers' 11-3 victory over the Orioles on Friday night at Globe Life Park. Jurado, who entered the rotation after Cole Hamels was traded to the Cubs, allowed two runs in five innings, and the Rangers have won six of their last seven.
"When you watch that young kid go out and pitch, it was really a good night for him," Texas manager Jeff Banister said. "I think there were 19 action plays, all on the sinker, worked the bottom part of the zone. There is a little extra when you watch that guy go out there and use that sinker and learn who he is against Major League hitters."
Jurado allowed six hits and two walks while striking out three. He also used the sinker to induce a couple of ground-ball double plays, getting out of jams in the third and fourth innings. Jurado ran into trouble in the fifth after sitting for an extended period during the Rangers' outburst. The Orioles scored a pair of runs on two-out RBI singles by Jonathan Villar and Tim Beckham but Jurado, still pounding the sinker, retired Adam Jones on a grounder to end the inning.
"Really, the fifth inning was a situation where we had that long inning, one of those learning moments for him," Banister said. "Sits over on that bench a long time, how do you keep yourself engaged mentally and physically to go back out there and grind through that inning?"
There also might be a learning curve when it comes to figuring out how to get by relying heavily on just one pitch. Jurado has a changeup and can throw a slider if needed, but right now it's the power sinker that got him through wins against the Astros last Saturday and the Orioles on Sunday. He has a 2.45 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in those two starts.
"We believe that is his pitch," Banister said. "Obviously, the changeup is the pitch that creates separation for him, but when you watch Major League hitters, they know what he's throwing and not getting the barrel to the baseball. There were some balls that were barreled, but for the most part they were balls on the ground. If he keeps the ball on the ground, he is going to be successful."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED The Rangers picked up an unearned run in the first inning courtesy of Baltimore starter David Hess. After Rougned Odor reached on a one-out single, Elvis Andrus hit a chopper back to the mound that deflected off Hess' glove. Hess retrieved it, but threw wild to first past first baseman Chris Davis. Andrus, trying to take second, then bumped into Davis as he went to chase down the ball. That allowed Odor to come around to score while Andrus stayed at first. Both managers wanted interference calls on the play. Orioles manager Buck Showalter wanted Odor sent back to third, while Banister wanted Andrus placed at second. Neither got his wish.
SOUND SMART Andrus had a single in his fifth at-bat to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest hitting streak by a Rangers player this season.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS Joey Gallo has played in eight games in right field, but already has four assists at the position. He added another in the eighth when Trey Mancini tried to score from first on Renato Nunez's double to right-center. Gallo got the ball to Odor, who made the relay throw to catcher Robinson Chirinos at home for the out.
"For me, I'm athletic; I can run balls down, but my main component in the outfield is to throw guys out, because I feel like I have a very good arm out there," Gallo said. "That play, the ball was in the gap, and I wanted to bust my [butt] to it and get it in, because I knew we were going to have a chance at home. Everything lined up perfectly. My throw to Rougie was perfect, and Rougie's throw home was absolutely on the money too. That doesn't happen a lot, to make two perfect throws like that, so that worked out in our favor." .
HE SAID IT "I think I am doing the same thing in the Minors. The same command and the same commitment." -- Jurado
UP NEXT Left-hander Mike Minor pitches against the Orioles at 7:05 p.m. CT Saturday at Globe Life Park. Minor is 3-2 with a 3.53 ERA in his past nine starts. But he allowed six runs, five earned, over 2 2/3 innings in a 6-5 loss to the Orioles on July 15. He is 4-2 with a 3.55 ERA in 11 starts at Globe Life Park. Right-hander Dylan Bundy will pitch for the Orioles.