Zach Britton dumbfounds Rangers
BALTIMORE -- Zach Britton walked off the mound to a standing ovation after a brilliant pitching performance that ended the Texas Rangers' run as the last unbeaten team in the majors.
Not long after that, Rangers manager Ron Washington heaped more praise upon the Orioles rookie left-hander, who led Baltimore to a 5-0 victory Saturday in the opener of a doubleheader.
"He kept the ball off the fat part of the bat," Washington said. "Give him credit. He did a good job."
Great Britton Messin' With Texas
Orioles rookie Zach Britton confounded the Rangers with a sinker that was ranked the best in the minors by Baseball America. Britton recorded 16 groundouts, including three double plays. Of his 103 pitches, 64 were "down." Five leadoff hitters reached base via hit or walk, but in four of those five innings, Britton recorded three infield outs to escape damage. He threw only one pitch that was "middle/middle," and of the 27 batters he faced, he went to three-ball counts to only four of them.
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As the last remaining unbeaten team in the majors, the Rangers were seeking to match the franchise-record 7-0 start of the 1996 club. But the defending AL champions fell behind 5-0 after three innings and never threatened to make up the difference.
"The first two innings they put the runs on the board," Washington said, "and the kid did the rest."
Britton (2-0) allowed four hits in 7 2/3 innings. He walked three, struck out two and allowed only two runners past first base in his second big league start.
Camden Yards wasn't close to full, but those in attendance stood as Britton walked from the mound to the dugout.
"It felt really good. Just kind of shows that the fans are behind you," Britton said. "There was a couple times with two strikes, they got pretty loud. I got goose bumps there; it takes a little bit to get used to. But it's exciting."
The left-hander was aided by three double plays -- two of which came off the bat of Texas cleanup hitter Adrian Beltre. In the eighth, after Texas got runners at the corners with two outs, Jason Berken came in and retired Ian Kinsler on a fielder's choice.
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"We showed we can compete with a good team," Britton said. "We played really good baseball today, and that's what this is all about. What I did was just icing on the cake."
Nick Markakis and Mark Reynolds homered for the Orioles, whose 6-1 record is tied with Texas for the best in the majors. Both drives came against Texas starter Colby Lewis (1-1).
Coming into the game, the Rangers had yielded only three home runs and their starters had won five straight decisions.
"It's always a disappointment when you lose," Washington said. "We got beat today. I wouldn't say we lost it, I would say they beat us."
Texas was bidding for a fifth straight doubleheader sweep of the Orioles. The last time the teams played a twinbill in Baltimore in 2007, the Rangers set several records by winning 30-3 and 9-7.
Markakis put Baltimore up 1-0 in the first inning with his first homer of the season, a drive to right on an 0-1 pitch.
In the second, Luke Scott singled and Adam Jones reached on an error before Reynolds homered to left, a shot estimated at 422 feet. That made it 4-0, the largest deficit the Rangers had faced this season.
It was the first homer of the year for Reynolds, obtained in an offseason trade with Arizona.
Baltimore added a run in the third when Vladimir Guerrero singled, Scott walked and Jones delivered an RBI single.
"It's two different worlds when you are pitching with a lead and when you are pitching behind," Britton said. "I wouldn't care if I give up a home run on the first pitch. If you have a 5-0 lead, my job is to go out there and pitch quick innings and get us back in the dugout."
Britton had a no-hitter through four innings and didn't permit a runner to get into scoring position until Yorvit Torrealba led off the sixth with a double. Torrealba reached third with one out but was stranded.