Texas Rangers three-game series
Game 1, of a double header due to Friday night rain 4/9/2011
I have to think that Zach Britton’s second ever major league start carried with it major league pressure. Maybe not putting-for-birdie-on-Sunday-at-The-Masters pressure, but the kind that comes from pitching to the only undefeated team left in baseball that, so far this season, has shown no mercy to opposing pitchers. Zach was nails, much like Tiger sinking a putt at 18 in one of his Masters wins — 7.2 innings, 4 H, 3 BB, 2Ks and no runs is what I call bringing it to the American league champion Rangers. Texas was hitless until the top of the fifth, two of its hits were quickly turned into double plays and the only real threat came in the top of the eighth. After a walk to Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli grounded out moving Cruz to second, after which Julio Borbon singled to move Cruz to third. At that point Buck Showalter visited the mound and Britton left the game to a standing ovation that would make anyone believe Camden Yards was filled to capacity, which, unfortunately, it wasn’t. Jason Berken came in to finish the eighth by getting Ian Kinsler to hit a ground ball forcing Borbon out at second. Berken close the ninth, handing the Rangers their first loss of the season.
Oriole offense began in the first with a solo shot by Nick Markakis off of starter Colby Lewis. Continuing in the second, Luke Scott singled to right followed by Adam Jones reaching on an error sending Scott to third. Mark Reynolds then went yard for his first bomb of the year raising the score to 4-0. The Orioles scored one the last time in the third when Vlad Guerrero reached second on a past ball after hitting a single. Adam Jones drove him in with a single to center putting the O’s on top 5-0 which would end up being the final score.
Final score: O’s win 5-0
Final Thought: Great for Reynolds to get his first home run as an Oriole, but the story really is about the ZACH ATTACK!!! Instead of sinking putts, Britton was throwing sinkers that hitters couldn’t make solid contact with.
Game 2 of the double header, 4/9/2011
Texas can swing it
Normally my intro paragraph is on the O’s pitching performance. Unfortunately the pitching report is more about Texas offense than Oriole pitching. Thirteen hits and 13 runs including four in the ninth was the story of game two. After a second inning solo shot by Adam Jones, O’s fans felt like it was their day. One inning and six runs later, Oriole starter Jake Arrieta, along with O’s fans, saw the Texas offense at its best. Texas roughed up starter Arrieta with eight runs, including two bombs, and the final pitcher of the night, just-called-up Chris Jakubauskas, for five more runs and one home run. Somehow, reliever Josh Rupe got through 2.3 innings undamaged by Rangers hitters.
Rangers starter Matt Harrison pitched seven innings giving up two hits, including Jones’ home run, and struck out three. The O’s managed only four hits and got a taste of their own game-one medicine with a great starting pitching performance by Harrison.
Final score: O’s lose 13-1
Final Thoughts: The Rangers offense was downright offensive, but behind Harrison’s performance, two runs would have been enough.
P.S. Oriole fans got to see spring star Jake Fox in the line up for the first time; unfortunately, he went 0-4.
Game 3, 4/10/2011
Jeremy Guthrie started for the O’s, after recently recovering from a bout with pneumonia, and pitched amazing, making only one mistake on Adrian Beltre’s solo shot to left. Six innings pitched, one run, and one K left the O’s in great shape to try and take the series win. Rangers starter Derek Holland, on the other hand, had a different outcome in mind shutting down the Orioles offense completely.
The story was great starting pitching from both teams but the long ball was the deciding factor. First Beltre’s shot off Guthrie, then reliever Jim Johnson gave up a two-run homer to Ian Kinsler in the seventh and that was enough offense to win it.
Final score: O’s lose 3-0
Final Thoughts: Great to see Guthrie back and pitching well after just recently spending time in the hospital. The Rangers came into this series undefeated and crushing the baseball. They definitely mashed it in game two, but their starting pitching was the real star in both wins against the O’s.
Player of the series should be shared by Guthrie and Britton. Great performances on the mound by a rookie and a recent inpatient.