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Rangers Top Orioles in Battle of Baseball Division Leaders

Posted on April 11, 2011 by Adam McCallister

Just days after spending time in the hospital, Jeremy Guthrie allowed just one run in six innings against the Rangers.

Less than 24 hours after the two best teams in the American League split a Saturday doubleheader, the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers returned to Camden Yards for the rubber and final game of the three game series and proved that they deserve to be considered the best team in the American League after the first full week of the season.

The matchup between lefty Derek Holland (1-0, 4.50 ERA) and the Orioles opening starter, right hander Jeremy Guthrie (1-0, 0.00 ERA) made for an interesting story line.

Guthrie, getting his second start of the season after battling pneumonia like symptoms a few days prior, looked healthy walking around the clubhouse during the pregame routine.  Guthrie in his only start of the year against the Tampa Bay Rays, allowed only 2 hits, striking out 3 and walking 1. But this time he was facing a much more potent lineup with the Rangers.  In the second game of the Saturday doubleheader Texas tagged Oriole pitching for 13 hits including 3 home runs.

The Rangers have a team batting average of .306 against right-handers in this young season.  Josh Hamilton (.381) and Mitch Moreland (.333) are the offensive leaders.  The Orioles were hoping that Guthrie’s history of success against the Rangers would hold as he entered the game with a 3-0 record against Texas and the O’s were 4-3 against the Rangers when Guthrie has the hill.

The Orioles were facing southpaw Derek Holland who in his only start this season went 6 innings giving up 3 earned runs on 7 hits and striking out 5.  In 2010 Holland averaged 5 and 2/3 innings in his 10 games he started.  Holland previously hadn’t enjoyed much success against the Orioles with an 0-2 record.

However, so far this season the Orioles are batting just .180 as a team against left-handers with only has 2 players in the lineup batting over .300, Matt Wieters (.333) and J.J. Hardy (.333). Unfortunately, Hardy missed the Sunday game after leaving Saturday’s game with a strained left oblique muscle.  He will have an MRI Monday to diagnose the injury.  Replacing him at shortstop was Robert Andino, who was getting his first playing time of the season.

As it would turn out, Holland and the Rangers proved to be too much for the Orioles to overcome. The struggles against left-handed pitching continued as the Orioles were unable to capitalize on a number of chances.

Baltimore left 14 runners on base in the game as they increased their scoreless inning streak to 16 innings dating back to Saturday night.

While Derek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero each went 2-4, the bottom of the lineup was unable to drive them home. The bottom five hitters in the order were a combined 1-20 with the only hit being a ninth inning pinch hit by Felix Pie.

The Rangers didn’t get a lot of hits off starter Jeremy Guthrie, but they got just enough. Just days after being in the hospital with pneumonia symptoms, Guthrie pitched a gem going six innings and allowing just four hits.

His lone mistake proved to be all the Rangers needed as he allowed a fourth inning home run to Adrian Beltre. After the game Guthrie said that he did experience some shortness of breath and tiredness and effects of his illness.

The Rangers put the game away in the seventh inning as Ian Kinsler blasted a two-run home run off reliever Jim Johnson to make the score 3-0.

The victory leaves the Rangers with an AL best 8-1 record while the Orioles fall to 6-3. Though they lost two of three games in the series, the Orioles can take some solace in playing toe-to-toe with the top team in the league.

Baltimore will get an even better assessment of where they rank on Tuesday when they start a three-game series in the Bronx against the New York Yankees, who are currently 5-4 and a game behind the Orioles after losing two of three games over the weekend in Boston.

The Rangers head to Detroit for a game Monday against the Tigers.

Adam McCallister is part of the Marlin and McCallister radio program that can be heard every morning on WOYK and WPDC in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley.

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