Early barrage carries Orioles past Rangers
Urrutia collects first knock, RBI in 17-hit attack to back solid Gonzalez
ARLINGTON -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter was winding down from Friday's night game, getting ready to leave the clubhouse, when he saw one player still remaining: Henry Urrutia. Showalter went over to the 26-year-old outfielder, who officially had his contract purchased from Triple-A Norfolk prior to the game but did not play, and said coyly: "What do you think, three or four days you might be ready?"
Urrutia -- who smiled as he told his new manager no -- had waited long enough. The Cuban native made his much-anticipated Major League debut as expected Saturday night, and while it remains to be seen if Urrutia's second-half arrival will spark the Orioles -- much like Manny Machado's did last August -- No. 51 had no problem fitting in for a 17-hit offensive onslaught.
Baltimore piled on Texas starter Ross Wolf, with Urrutia going 1-for-4 with an RBI single in the 7-4 series-clinching victory in front of 41,660 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
"I told him before the game during [batting practice], 'Hey, if you are going to play with us, you are in group two, you are in my group, me and [Nick] Markakis swing the bat. We go up there hacking," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who went 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs, said of his early exchange with Urrutia.
"Obviously, we try to have a little bit of control, but we go up there hacking. And I'm happy he got the monkey off his back. I know his friends, family are proud. Now hopefully, he can just fit in on this team and drive in runs when we need him."
Backed by another great effort from the steady Miguel Gonzalez, who went 6 2/3 innings for his eighth consecutive quality start, the O's picked up their sixth win in seven games and improved to a season-high 12 games over .500. The third-place Orioles remain two games back of Tampa Bay and are now 3 1/2 games behind the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox, who lost to the Yankees.
"We were fortunate tonight to get out ahead and hold on," Showalter said of his team's first series win in Arlington since 2010. "Pitching has been the difference with one exception. You look at teams like them, they're so talented and so deep that you just better take care of your own business, because it's a given where they are [at the end of the year]."
The Orioles scored seven runs on 11 hits before the first out of the third inning was recorded and worked Wolf for a 29-pitch first, jumping out to a 2-0 lead courtesy of RBI singles from Jones and Chris Davis. Machado's right-field single drove in the team's third run in the next frame, scoring Nate McLouth, who tripled and extended his career high to 25 stolen bases with a first-inning swipe.
Baltimore, which had every starter reach base safely by the third inning, chased Wolf after two-plus frames, with J.J. Hardy's bases-loading single his final batter. Urrutia, who struck out with the bases loaded in his first at-bat, came through this time and laced a ball into right field off lefty reliever Joseph Ortiz for his first career hit and RBI.
"I was really anxious in the first at-bat, but in the second at-bat I just tried to put the ball in play and make good contact," said Urrutia, who spoke with Minor League coach Ramon Sambo translating. "It was really emotional for me and I'm happy to be here. It's a dream come true."
Brian Roberts followed with a long single to right field to drive in a pair of runs -- charged to Wolf -- but got caught at second base, and Urrutia was tagged out trying to score on McLouth's fly ball for a double play to end the inning with the Orioles leading 7-0.
"This is not his first rodeo," Showalter said of the left-handed-hitting Urrutia, who lined out sharply to shortstop and also grounded out, holding his own in each at-bat. "I don't know, do they have rodeos in Cuba? He played in front of big venues. Playing for your country is a lot of pressure, especially in the Olympics. He's been in a lot of [important games]. I was really happy with the process we went through with him to this point. And he's always handled himself well against left-handed pitching in the lower levels. So, we'll see."
The offense, which also included three hits from catcher Matt Wieters and Jones' solo homer, was more than enough for Gonzalez, who took a shutout into the seventh inning. The Orioles' most consistent starter this season, the right-handed Gonzalez scattered eight hits and struck out three in an impressive 104-pitch outing that ended after Ian Kinsler's sacrifice fly.
"I started off a little slow and I've been building up during the whole year and that's what counts," Gonzalez said, "and hopefully, I can keep it going to keep our team in ballgames and win some more."
Gonzalez, who last pitched July 11 against Texas, got some help behind him in the field as the Orioles continued to put on a defensive clinic. One of the game's best plays came in the second inning, when Jones ran in on Elvis Andrus' shallow fly ball to center field and deked an attempt at catching it, fooling A.J. Pierzynski enough to stop halfway between first and second base. When the ball dropped a few feet in front of Jones, he fired to Hardy to nab Pierzynski at second.
"That play works about 1 in 200,000 attempts," Jones said. "It's more of a reaction, having some fun with it. You rarely get people. But once I seen him take that step back ... I saw him take a giant step back and I caught it and got rid of it quick. My shortstop days, you know what I mean?"
Jones opened the next inning with his 20th home run, ambushing Wolf's pitch and sending it an estimated 421 feet to mark his third consecutive 20-homer season.
Right-hander Tommy Hunter replaced Gonzalez and, after recording the final out in the seventh, was charged with three eighth-inning runs, and closer Jim Johnson -- who brought the tying run to the plate -- recorded his 35th save.
Davis, who grimaced while stretching to receive a throw on the first out of the top of the ninth, also fouled a ball off his right ankle bone in the third inning. In that frame, head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and Showalter came out to check on Davis after he rounded second base and the first baseman stayed in the game with no issue.
"It's sore, it tightened up a little bit," Davis said of the injury, which he didn't expect to be anything that would keep him out of the lineup. "I obviously iced it, will wrap it up for tonight. It's something where every guy -- I've seen Adam Jones foul about 800 balls off his foot this year, so just one of those things."