The Orioles beat the Texas Rangers tonight by a 5-2 score, finishing the four-game sweep with another decisive win. Wei-Yin Chen was the pitcher that we know him to be as he gave up two runs in six innings. The offense decided to take a night off from home runs and instead used six doubles and a four-hit day from Steve Pearce to score five runs and get the win.
With rain threatening to derail tonight's game, Rangers manager Ron Washington elected to start Scott Baker instead of the originally scheduled Yu Darvish. This seemed like reason to celebrate in Birdland, but I had my doubts. Despite not being a good pitcher over his career, Baker has always owned the Orioles. In eight career starts against the Orioles, Baker has a 2.13 ERA and has held the Orioles to a .553 OPS. But other than one one-inning relief appearance earlier this year, Baker hadn't faced the Orioles since 2011, so maybe they could change their fortune. And they certainly did not light Baker up the way I wish they would have, but they did get to him for three runs over 4 2/3 innings, and on this night that was enough for the win.
It looked at first like the Orioles would fall victim to Baker once again, but I have learned by this time not to expect many runs by this team in the first half of the game. They had a chance to score in the first, but when Steve Pearce tried to score from third on a ground ball to first, he was thrown out at the plate by Carlos Pena. It wasn't a great move in my opinion, but not egregious either that early in the game. They did get on the board in the third inning when Pearce singled in Nick Hundley, who had doubled earlier in the inning. I've already mentioned Pearce getting two hits in this paragraph alone. That is because he is awesome, and had four hits on the night.
The Rangers went ahead on solo runs in the fourth and fifth innings, though it looked like it would be more in each. You could say that Chen got lucky, but I'm feeling charitable on account of the four-game sweep, so I'm gonna say he battled back and used his skills to escape any further damage.
In the fourth inning, the Rangers put runners on second and third with one out, but Chen got Carlos Pena to ground out. That knocked in one run, and a pop out ended the inning. In the fifth, Shin-Soo Choo homered for the Rangers second run, which made the score 2-1. Elvis Andrus followed that with a double, but was stranded as Leonys Martin flew out with two runners on to end the inning.
The lead didn't last long for Texas, though. The Orioles spent the fifth inning hitting doubles and taking back the lead. Back-to-back doubles by Ryan Flaherty and Hundley scored the first run, and one out later, Pearce doubled in Flaherty for the second. Of course he did. The Rangers elected to intentionally walk Nelson Cruz to get to Davis, and with Davis at the plate Pearce and Cruz executed a double steal. It was nifty, but didn't matter because Davis struck out to end the inning.
Chen came back out for the sixth inning, which seemed dicey since he had been playing with fire. But I needn't have worried, as he got the Rangers 1-2-3 to finish his quality start.
The Orioles added two more in the seventh inning as Nick Markakis joined the party. He doubled and then moved to third on Pearce's fourth hit of the day. Jones knocked Nick in with a sacrifice fly and with Cruz at the plate, Pearce stole another base! With first open the Rangers again walked Cruz intentionally, but this time Davis made them pay with an RBI single to center field.
Pearce came up to bat a fifth time with two runners on and two outs, looking to pick up his fifth hit of the day. Sadly it wasn't meant to be. He struck out to end the inning. I guess getting on base four out of five times is acceptable.
The rain that we all thought would be pouring all night finally showed up in the ninth inning, but closer Zach Britton made short work of the Rangers. He worked around a leadoff double to Chris Gimenez and retired the next three batters to end the game.
With that, the Orioles completed the four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers, an event that effectively washed the bitter taste of losing three of four to the Rays out of my mouth. Not long after the O's game ended, the Blue Jays lost to the Oakland Athletics, which means that your Baltimore Orioles are currently in first place in the American League East.