It starts with starting pitching. It also can end there.
The Rangers completed their sweep of the Orioles with a 10-4 victory before an announced crowd of 16,142 at Camden Yards that saved its loudest cheers for the Ravens scores displayed on the video board.
Renato Núñez stirred the masses with his 29th home run and first since Aug. 21, a 426-foot shot to left field off Mike Minor leading off the second inning. Statcast clocked the exit velocity at 111.9 mph.
Gabriel Ynoa replaced Wojciechowski in the third and Ronald Guzmán greeted him with a home run for a 5-1 lead.
The Orioles have lost five straight and eight of nine while falling to 46-97, still one win shy of last season’s total as they wait for the Dodgers to show up Tuesday night.
Too bad it isn’t the Dolphins.
This was supposed to be the easier series, but the Rangers posted their first four-game sweep in Baltimore since July 1972.
The Rangers lost 100 games under manager Ted Williams. The Orioles were coming off three consecutive American League pennants, but they traded Frank Robinson in the offseason.
There were no excuses today.
Wojciechowski faced 14 batters and allowed four runs and six hits with one walk, two strikeouts and a hit batter. He threw 42 of his 58 pitches in the second.
After shutting out the Red Sox on one hit in 7 1/3 innings and holding the Angels to two runs in seven, Wojciechowski has surrendered 29 runs in 37 innings in his next eight starts for a 7.05 ERA.
Rougned Odor walked with one out in the first and singles by Willie Calhoun and Nick Solak gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Solak had a two-run single in the second after Wojciechowski allowed three straight one-out singles to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Jose Trevino and Shin-Soo Choo and hit Calhoun.
Ynoa surrendered solo homers to Guzmán in the third and Odor in the fourth to raise the staff’s season total to 276.
The Rangers had 12 hits by the fourth inning, with everyone in the lineup owning at least one. They finished with 20 and left 15 runners on base.
Pedro Severino doubled to score Jonathan Villar in the fifth and cut the lead to 6-2. But Dillon Tate loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth on two walks and a hit batter, Delino DeShields delivered an RBI single and Trevino had a sacrifice fly for an 8-2 lead.
Paul Fry replaced Tate and another run scored on Choo’s infield single.
The Orioles put runners on the corners with no outs in the sixth and couldn’t score. David Hess entered in the seventh and allowed a run just two batters into his outing, with Solak picking up another RBI on a single.
Reliever Taylor Guerrieri issued a bases-loaded walk to Severino with one out in the ninth and Richie Martin collected an RBI on a fielder’s choice grounder off Luke Farrell.
Hanser Alberto had three hits off Minor, none with a higher exit velocity than 95.5 mph, and is batting .420 against lefties. His season average rose to .322 before he struck out to end the game.
Minor held the Orioles to two runs and six hits in eight innings and improved to 13-8 with a 3.08 ERA.
Mychal Givens ran his scoreless streak to nine appearances in a row in the ninth inning.
The Orioles allowed 10 runs or more for the 25th time this season, most in the American League and one behind the Pirates.
Update: Alberto’s 84 hits against lefties is the most since Ichiro had 84 in 2004.
Manager Brandon Hyde said he could push back Wojciechowski’s next start in order to provide extra rest. Wojciechowski conceded that he’s fatigued with his innings total at 151 2/3.
Hyde said Harvey “should be OK” for the Dodgers series.
Hyde on Wojciechowski: “I just thought he was battling from the first pitch, He’s thrown a lot of innings this year. Probably going to push him back a few days before his next start. But he’s just thrown a lot of innings and is kind of a max effort guy, gives you everything he’s got out there. I just thought today he was really battling himself and thinking I’d give him a little bit of a breather.”
Hyde on pitching: “We had a tough time on the mound the last couple of nights. Odor and Calhoun and Guzmán, we had a tough time getting those guys out this series and we haven’t thrown the ball well the last couple of games.”
Hyde on hoping to finish strong at home: “I hope so. I hope we do. These last two games are not how we’ve been playing. I thought the first couple games of the series were competitive games, we had a chance to win both those games. On that road trip, every game was tight and we’ve been playing competitive baseball and these last two, you just kind of flush and the day off comes at a nice time. Hopefully, we get back and get back to playing competitive baseball following the off-day.”
Hyde on Alberto and Núñez: “It was nice to see Noonie hit that homer. His homers kind of come in bunches, so I hope he continues into the next series. And Alberto has been swinging the bat so well all year. He just finds ways to get hits. He covers the plate and doesn’t strike out much and gives himself a chance. So we’re really impressed with both those guys this year and hope they finish the season strong.
Wojciechowski on whether fatigued: “I’m starting to feel it. But it’s my job to pitch these amount of innings. But I’d say for the last few weeks, definitely feeling the effects of it. You can see the life on my fastball, the sharpness of my pitches, but I’ve got to be able to find a way and get through it. But, yeah, just like today. It was a struggle. Six singles and four runs. Felt like the ball didn’t really fall my way today. But I’ve got to find a way and I’ve got to finish strong.”
Wojciechowski on whether he’s injured: “I’m not injured. It’s the most I’ve thrown in seven years, so it’s been since 2013 since I’ve had this amount of innings. Like I said, it’s my job to be doing this, so I’m not injured. I’ve just got to find a way to finish strong, to go out and compete, and pitch deep into ballgames and give us a chance to win some games.”
Alberto on whether he’s thinking batting title: “I don’t think about the batting title. I was thinking about tying Ichiro the whole time because my family back home, they tell me how close I was to Ichiro. I don’t think about the batting title. A lot of games left and this is like day-by-day. I’ve got to keep consistent and try to finish strong.”
Alberto on the key to being consistent: “Keep working, stay healthy and keep the same approach at home plate. Don’t try to do too much, don’t think about anything. Just try to go to home plate with my good approach like how I’ve been doing the entire season and I think it’s going to be a good result.”
Alberto on whether feeling fresh now that he plays every day: “Yeah, obviously it’s hard because I came basically from nowhere now to play every day. It feels good. Your name is going to be in the lineup and prepare the night before and (be) ready for the challenge of the day.”
Alberto on whether it’s harder to do when team’s losing: “It is. Obviously, you want to do a good job, but you also want to get a W. We’re here to get a W and try to win some games. When you lose, it’s not the same feeling even if you have three, four, five hits in a game.”