Nate Lowe’s 10th-inning bases-loaded single gave the Texas Rangers a 1-0 victory over the Orioles on Sunday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
In the bottom of the 10th, Charlie Culberson, the Rangers’ automatic runner at second, was thrown out when Eli White’s bunt was fielded by Travis Lakins, the Orioles’ fourth reliever. Lakins fielded the bunt on one bounce, an then turned and threw to Maikel Franco, who tagged out Culberson.
White moved to second on a wild pitch by Lakins. Willie Calhoun and Isiah Kiner-Falefa struck out. Lakins threw another wild pitch, sending runners to second and third.
Nick Solak walked to load the bases, and Lowe singled to left to score White.
The Orioles (7-9) had won the first two games of the three-game series but had only five hits.
Texas’ Kyle Gibson allowed just four hits in eight scoreless innings, and John Means gave up only three in seven shutout innings.
“It was two really good starters that were on today,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “A pretty good baseball game. Two really good pitching performances by both sides.”
The Orioles allowed just four runs in the three games.
“I’m happy with how we pitched coming into this series. I thought we threw the ball extremely well this series,” Hyde said. “I think our starters are doing a great job. I think our bullpen is doing a great job.”
The Orioles had an excellent chance to score in the top of the 10th. Franco, the automatic runner at second, took third when Calhoun took away a hit from Ryan Mountcastle by making a running and tumbling catch in deep left. Trey Mancini, who didn’t start for the first time this season, then hit a sinking liner to right that dropped in for a single.
However, it wasn’t clear if the ball would drop, and Franco stayed close to third before breaking for home. Texas rightfielder Adolis Garcia made a strong throw home, and catcher Jose Trevino received the throw up the third base line and tagged Franco in a collision for the second out. Freddy Galvis struck out to end the 10th.
“I saw a really nice defensive play by the rightfielder,” Hyde said. “It’s a really, really tough read. Ball’s up in the air … From our vantage point, which is pretty much the same as Franco’s, I didn’t know if it was going to hang up for him or not, so he went bag to tag, and the guy just made a heck of a throw. They played good defense in the top of the 10th.”
Hyde asked home plate umpire Sam Holbrook for a crew chief reivew on the play at the plate because he thought that Trevino was blocking Franco’s path.
“I wanted him to take a look, but we wouldn’t have gotten that, anyways,” Hyde said.
Ramón Urías had two of the Orioles’ five hits, a single and double, and he said that the hitting environment was difficult because of the shadows on the field.
“Definitely very tough to hit with the shadows,” Urías said. “All of my teammates were talking about it in the dugout, how difficult it was. I had a good day but, unfortunately, overall we were not able to be the offensive team that we can be.”
Means’ outstanding day: Means pitched seven excellent innings, giving up just three hits. He struck out nine and walked two, lowering his ERA to 1.52.
It was Means’ second quality start of the season. In the Orioles’ opener on April 1st, Means pitched seven shutout innings against Boston, giving up one hit.
“The changeup was definitely the lifesaver today,” Means said. “I got my curveball over for strikes. The heater was playing well up in the zone, and I was getting some swings and misses on that. Really, the whole mix was playing well today.”
Urias enjoyed playing behind Means at second base.
“I think today was his day,” Urías said. “All of his pitches were working really well for him. He was nasty on all of his pitches. I was disappointed that, unfortunately, we couldn’t get a victory for him, but he threw the ball pretty darn well.”
Hyde couldn’t have asked for more from Means.
“He was in total command,” Hyde said. “He had a great fastball that he was locating. He threw some really good curveballs. The changeup was there, seven shutout innings, nine punchouts. That pretty much says it all right there.”
Means thinks the starters’ success feeds off each other.
“We’re such a young team,” Means said. “When everybody is doing well, you start to create that energy and start to build off that. Guys are really finding out who they are.”
Globe Life Field: Because of the pandemic, the Orioles couldn’t visit the Rangers’ new park, Globe Life Field, in its first season.
“It’s really nice, first class,” Hyde said. “It’s a big stadium. It’s a big park. It’s not like the old park [Globe Life Park]. The ball really jumped. It felt like fly balls turned into homers easily. You’ve really got to hit one to get one out of here. It’s a pitchers’ park, great surface, great environment. The amenities are first class. They did a really nice job.”
Coming up: The Orioles are off on Monday. They play two games in Miami against the Marlins. Matt Harvey (0-1, 5.02 ERA) will face Nate Neidert (0-0, 4.00) on Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. Bruce Zimmermann (1-1, 4.24) will face Trevor Rogers (1-1, 2.40) on Wednesday afternoon at 1:10.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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