The Orioles had their third chance to sweep a series in this young season Wednesday, and for the third time they lost the finale by a one-sided margin. Baltimore got knocked around by a 19-6 score to Texas on Wednesday, a result that goes right next to 11-2 and 11-3 losses to New York and Tampa Bay.
"Overall, as a team, we've got to figure out a way to close out series," said starting pitcher Mark Hendrickson. "We've come into the first three series of the year and played good the first two games and then don't really give ourselves a chance in the third game. We've got to correct that going forward if we want to be a good team."
In this case, much of the carnage comes down to starting pitching. The Orioles' starters worked to a 10.80 ERA against Texas, and that's with Hendrickson getting charged with seven unearned runs. Baltimore's starters only pitched 10 innings in this series, a statistic somewhat mitigated by an injury to Alfredo Simon.
Hendrickson's night was heavily impacted by two errors, but he still threw 95 pitches without completing four innings. The southpaw gave up seven hits and walked four batters, playing a crucial role in an eight-run fourth inning for the Rangers. And when you get down to it, Baltimore (6-3) still leaves Texas feeling positive.
"I don't think I have enough information," said manager Dave Trembley, referring to the familiar result in three series finales. "I think it's just a coincidental thing. I'll take two out of three, though. Every time."
Most of Wednesday's damage came in the fourth inning, by which point the Orioles were already down 4-3. Hendrickson walked a batter and gave up a hit before coaxing a grounder to second baseman Brian Roberts. Roberts fielded cleanly and threw wildly on a force attempt at second, allowing a run to score.
Hendrickson (1-1) wound up getting two outs -- one on a strikeout and one on a fly ball -- sandwiched around an intentional walk. The southpaw gave up one more hit, an RBI single by Marlon Byrd, before leaving the game. After that, reliever Radhames Liz served up a first-pitch grand slam to Nelson Cruz.
"There's no doubt that they're a fastball-hitting team," said Hendrickson. "I obviously saw that the first couple nights. You can tell how aggressive they are at the plate. I wanted to mix up my other pitches, and for the most part I did that. But then I lost the command of my fastball. They're a good team. Tonight was their night."
The Orioles never closed within eight runs for the rest of the game, and they watched as Texas set several offensive milestones. The 19 runs were the most the Rangers have scored since notching 30 against Baltimore in August of the 2007 season, and Ian Kinsler became the fourth player in franchise history to hit for the cycle.
Kinsler also became the first Rangers player to have six hits in a nine-inning game, and he teamed with Byrd to become the first pair of American League teammates to have five hits in the same game since Mo Vaughn and Randy Velarde did it for the Angels in June of the 1999 season.
"We've had trouble with him dating back to last year," said Trembley of Kinsler. "He's hit us real well. He hits everybody real well. Today was his night. ... A tremendous achievement for a very good player."
The Rangers (4-5) scored in six of their eight innings to snap a five-game losing streak and are the only Major League team that has hit home runs in every one of their games this season. Hendrickson only gave up one of those shots -- a solo homer by Kinsler in the third inning -- but couldn't capitalize on an early lead.
The Orioles led 2-1 after the first inning and 3-1 after the second, but Texas scored three times in the third to take command. Shortstop Cesar Izturis made a key error with one out in that inning, and after a fielder's choice, Hendrickson went on to allow four straight men to reach base -- two on hits and two on walks.
"The tempo wasn't very good," said catcher Chad Moeller, who had several on-field chats with Hendrickson. "We were working behind a lot. I think you end up with fielders on their heels. It just didn't work."
"I just thought the pace of the game wasn't real crisp," added Trembley. "I don't know if there was confusion on what pitch to be called or what pitch to be thrown. It just seemed like neither guy looked real comfortable. Give Texas credit. Gosh darn, they scored all those runs and I don't think it mattered. Whatever we threw up there, they hit it."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less