Rangers hit four homers, overpower Orioles
BALTIMORE -- The Rangers broke out of their slump in a big way, homering four times and unloading on the Orioles to pick up their second win in nine games, an 8-1 series-opening victory Monday night at Camden Yards.
A Texas club that entered the day averaging just 2.9 runs per game over their last eight games saw Mitch Moreland homer twice and Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Corporan go deep off Orioles starter Bud Norris. Joey Gallo added a bases-clearing triple, the first triple of his career, off reliever Tommy Hunter in the seventh to back starter Wandy Rodriguez's five-plus innings. The Rangers moved back to one game over .500.
"We were just trying to get a pitch up in the zone, a good pitch to hit, and for the most part we were able to kind of create some opportunities," Moreland said. "It felt like every inning we had something going on. That's the kind of games you want to lead the series off."
Norris, who allowed five runs over six innings, fell to 2-7 with a 6.79 ERA on the year. The righty, who had a career-high 15 wins last season, has struggled to regain that form.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rangers' power surge: Texas' four homers matched a season high set on April 9 in Oakland. Moreland got the homer train started in the second with a solo shot to right, but only after a one minute, 44-second crew chief review overturned the original base-hit call. Corporan logged the team's second homer on a 1-2 pitch an inning later, and Moreland picked up his sixth multi-homer game of his career with a long ball in the fourth. Choo made it four consecutive innings with a home run in the fifth with his ninth homer of the season.
"The production up and down the lineup was special tonight and something that we needed coming off a game where we were 2-for-15 or 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "They put together some really nice at-bats and came away with an 8-1 victory. Very nice to see." More >
Wandy gets mad at ump, gets out of jam: Rodriguez ran into some trouble with not just the O's offense, but also home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck in the fifth inning. After giving up back-to-back singles, Rodriguez walked Nolan Reimold to load the bases, but did not like the call on ball four, throwing up his hands in disgust. Hirschbeck took his mask off and got his say in before manager Jeff Banister came out to calm him down. Rodriguez responded by giving up an RBI single to Adam Jones, but got out of the inning with little damage by striking out Chris Davis and getting Delmon Young to fly out to right.
"I felt like he calmed down, refocused and got back to work," Banister said. "You have those things inside games and more than anything else, the ability to redirect his emotions and to get refocused into not letting that moment overwhelm him is a testament to who he is and the veteran pitcher he is." More >
Norris' big mistakes: Norris fell victim to the long ball, allowing a season-high four homers after giving up just seven total on the year. The righty was able to go six innings, but he allowed 10 baserunners and couldn't keep the Rangers in the park. Just three of Norris' 11 starts this season have been quality starts.
"I really battled my timing mechanism as far as my hand out of my glove and stuff like that. That's something I've really battled my whole career. I've got to figure that out a little bit," Norris said. "I really don't feel I'm that far off. And when I have those timing mechanisms and everything is coming out of the right slot and everything is coming out of the same deception hole, and where the pitches are coming out of my hand, I feel like those things will really propel me to where I want to be and where I was last year." More >
O's offense falls short: The Orioles scored their lone run on Jones' single in the fifth inning, but they stranded the bases loaded in that frame and left nine men on base total. Several O's were visibly upset with some strike calls, including a called third strike on Steve Pearce that left two runners on in the fourth.
"I'm not going to comment on the strike zone. I'm just going to stay away from that," Pearce said. "Don't know the rules on that, so I'm just gonna chalk it up, flush [the loss] and go back out tomorrow."
"I care so much and I want to help these guys win. We all seem to be playing a lot better baseball and I want to do my part." -- Norris
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Monday's loss was the O's first at home since June 14. Baltimore has won 10 of its past 12 games at Camden Yards.
The Orioles challenged, and won, Norris' pickoff move of Rougned Odor at first base for the first out of the first inning.
Rangers: Texas will send Colby Lewis (7-3, 4.10 ERA) to the mound for the second game of the four-game series on Tuesday at 6:05 p.m. CT. The right-hander has never won at Camden Yards, but he has posted five consecutive quality starts. He's gone 3-0 during that span with a 3.09 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. Josh Hamilton is expected to come off the disabled list, and he could man center field.
Orioles: Baltimore will send Miguel Gonzalez to the mound against the Rangers on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Gonzalez, who is 6-4 with a 3.58 ERA on the season, could have Jonathan Schoop behind him as the O's weigh whether to activate the infielder.
Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.