Orioles starter Jorge López entered Friday night’s game against the Texas Rangers with an 11.42 ERA in his first two starts. López pitched five strong innings and was backed by home runs from DJ Stewart and Rio Ruiz in the Orioles’ 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers in Baltimore’s first game at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
López didn’t allow a hit in his first four innings and began the fifth by giving up home runs to David Dahl and Nick Solak. After retiring the next three hitters, he was pulled after 75 pitches. López struck out eight and walked one.
Manager Brandon Hyde was relieved to see a solid outing from his fourth starter.
“He’s had his trouble there in the fourth and fifth inning so far this season,” Hyde said. “So the third time in the order, coming back around, it was unfortunate with the two home runs, but I was so encouraged by his first four innings. That was so aggressive, pitching his fastball to both sides of the plate, showing them a good curveball. It was dominating and, hopefully, he can build off this one.” ‘
López said he had better stuff against Texas than he had in his first two starts.
“It was much different than the first two,” López said. “Curveball, changeup was really good … every pitch I threw, I kept attacking.”
López, whose fastball topped out at 97 mph, said he could have continued.
“I wanted another inning, but Hyde has his plan, and I believe in him,” López said.
The Orioles scored in the third on a triple by shortstop Freddy Galvis and a double by centerfielder Cedric Mullins against Mike Foltynewicz. Ruiz homered in the fourth. In the fifth, the Orioles scored three runs on rightfielder Anthony Santander’s sacrifice fly and Stewart’s two-run home run, his first.
In their doubleheader loss to Seattle on Thursday, the Orioles had just three runs and seven hits in 14 innings.
“Two great swings,” Hyde said. “Great to see Rio drive the ball the other way. It was the shortest swing he’s had this season.”
The Orioles had all seven of their hits in the first five innings. Their final 14 hitters were retired in order.
“We did a lot of good things in the third through fifth innings offensively,” Hyde said.
With the expected return of Austin Hays from a left hamstring strain in the next few days, Hyde will have more decisions to make. Besides Mullins and Santander in center and right, Hays, Stewart and Ryan Mountcastle might have to jockey for playing time in left and at designated hitter.
“It will be a matchup, rotation type of thing,” Hyde said. “I don’t think you can have enough good players on your roster. You can always find a way to get guys into the game. Guys need days off, guys need rest. The more good players you have, the better.”
The home run, which traveled 436 feet, was Stewart’s first since September 14, 2020, when he concluded a run of seven homers in nine games.
“It was huge, just momentum-wise, confidence-wise,” Stewart said. “It was big for us to get some early and put them away.”
Stewart had missed five weeks because of a strained left hamstring and hit his first homer in his seventh game.
“I feel good. Some at-bats, the first two at-bats today, I was having trouble picking up, timing-wise because [Foltynewicz] was working super, super quick, throwing my timing off.
“The third at-bat helped me because we had guys in front of us like Freddy starting it off. Cedric’s on base, and any time Cedric’s on base, it’s a big time threat for him to go, and I think that forced him to slow down a little bit, and helped me out big time.”
Left-hander Paul Fry retired the five batters he faced in relief of López. Dillon Tate hit a batter and allowed a hit but recorded the final out of the seventh. Adam Plutko threw a spotless eighth, and César Valdez worked the ninth for his third save. The four relievers combined for four scoreless innings, giving up just two hits.
In the ninth, Texas had runners on first and third on a throwing error by third baseman Maikel Franco and an infield single by Solak. Valdez struck out Jose Trevino to end the game.
The Orioles are 6-8 and 5-2 on the road.
Notes: Mullins, who hit in the season’s first 11 games, and Galvis each had two hits. Mullins became a full-time left-handed hitter this season after struggling from the right side as a switch-hitter.
“I’ve seen this before,” Stewart said. “Obviously, everyone’s shocked with him going just the left-handed side, which is super impressive for someone who hasn’t been doing that that long, staying in there against those lefties. I’ve seen him locked in like this before in the minor leagues. It doesn’t surprise me, and I hope it continues because when he goes, we all go.”
Mullins is hitting .396 with a 1.043 OPS. … Oriole pitchers struck out 15 Rangers, their most since September 20, 2020 when they struck out 16 Tampa Bay Rays.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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