A four-game split was the final outcome of the Texas Rangers’ series at Camden Yards against a playoff contender, and teams seldom leave disappointed halving a road series.
Add in two spot starts, including one for the staff ace, and a split might look awfully shiny.
But that wasn’t the case in the Rangers’ clubhouse Thursday night after they lost 3-1 to the Baltimore Orioles, and that says something.
There are no excuses on a team that has been surviving much of the first half of the season as key contributors have been felled by injuries. Nor is that team feeling sorry for itself.
“We’re one of the best teams in the big leagues,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “To split after winning the first two isn’t the way we wanted to finish up.”
Kinsler provided the Rangers’ only run with a homer off Miguel Gonzalez (7-3) to start the sixth inning, and spot starter Ross Wolf allowed only two runs on three hits in six innings.
Two of the hits, though, were solo homers, and the Rangers couldn’t dig out of a 2-0 deficit after three innings.
Wolf, who was replacing Yu Darvish, said he threw a lousy changeup to Chris Davis with one out in the second inning that resulted in the slugger’s baseball-leading 34th homer of the season. Davis had been 0 for 10 in the series, and he finished 1 for 13.
Brian Roberts started the third inning with a homer, his second of the season, after Wolf (1-2) missed his location with a fastball.
“I made two mistakes, and those two batters did what you do to mistakes,” said Wolf, who threw only 72 pitches in his second start of the season. “Unfortunately, two solo shots beat us. It’s just stinks to come out on the losing end.”
Wolf, though, shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame. The Rangers had a runner in scoring position in the fifth inning, albeit with two outs, and in the eighth with no outs.
Leonys Martin started with a single through the middle and went to second as a pickoff throw by Darren O’Day got away from Davis.
But the top of the order failed to deliver. Kinsler’s tapper spun into fair territory only a few feet from home plate for the first out, Elvis Andrus popped out, and Nelson Cruz flied out to end the threat.
“We had the right guys coming, 1-2-3,” manager Ron Washington said. “I’ll take my chances with 1-2-3 every day. You have to give credit to O’Day. He made the pitches he had to make and got the guys he had to get.”
The Orioles tacked on an insurance run off Jason Frasor with a two-out single by Nate McLouth a batter after a Nolan Reimold chopper deflected off Adrian Beltre’s glove on its way to left field to leave runners at first and second.
Beltre started the ninth with a single but was erased as A.J. Pierzynski rolled into a double play, and Mitch Moreland got no further than first base after his third single of the game.
The Rangers finished the series with only two runs and 11 hits in the final two games after collecting 16 runs on 26 hits in the first two. Next up is Detroit, which will throw Doug Fister and All-Stars Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in the final series before the All-Star break.
No one was blaming Wolf after the game.
“It was a game of few opportunities,” Washington said. “They took better advantage of theirs than we did with ours.”