ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Baltimore Orioles Manager Buck Showalter has stressed all season that one game can’t mean too much — whether it’s an inspiring comeback or an epic clunker.
Ponder what happened for a few minutes postgame, Showalter preaches, and then turn the page.
Given that thinking, the Orioles need to treat Wednesday’s 12-3 pummeling by the Texas Rangers like a spellbinding thriller. And flip through it quickly.
In what is shaping up as their best season in more than a decade, the Orioles suffered through their ugliest inning of the year — a nine-run Ranger fourth that included a grand slam by Mitch Moreland and two two-run homers by Adrian Beltre. Beltre had also homered in his first at-bat, a solo shot in the second, for the first three-homer regular season game of his career. He also accomplished the feat in Game 4 of the 2011 American League Division Series.
The Texas third baseman had two more chances to have a four-homer game — which was last accomplished by his teammate, Josh Hamilton, on May 8 against the Orioles at Camden Yards — but he grounded out both times.
The Orioles (67-57) were attempting to win four consecutive road series for just the second time this season, but dropped the rubber match in unimpressive fashion. The Rangers (72-51) ended the season series with the Orioles winning five of seven.
Coincidentally, Wednesday marked the five-year anniversary of the Orioles’ worst loss in franchise history, a 30-3 embarrassment by, yes, the Rangers at Camden Yards.
Still, these Orioles return home for Friday’s series opener against Toronto after going 3-3 on a tough trip to Detroit and Texas and 12-6 in their last 18 games.
They’ll have to focus on that, because Wednesday’s loss was particularly brutal.
Starter Tommy Hunter (4-8) lasted just three-plus innings, facing eight in the third without retiring a batter. He was charged with eight runs on eight hits, two walks, and three homers. The right-hander has now served up a major-league worst 32 homers in 121 innings
He’s actually on his way to a more infamous statistic. Hunter has now allowed 2.38 homers per nine innings this season. If that figure holds, it would be the worst homer to innings ratio in modern baseball history for ERA qualifiers, topping the 2.20 mark allowed by Houston’s Jose Lima in 2000.
On Wednesday, Hunter allowed Beltre’s first two homers and Moreland’s first grand slam of his career. Kevin Gregg gave up Beltre’s other home run in the fourth, an inning in which the Rangers sent 12 batters to the plate.
The Orioles hadn’t allowed eight hits in an inning since giving up 10 to Kansas City in the sixth on Aug. 4, 2011 and hadn’t yielded as many as nine runs in an inning since permitting 12 to the New York Yankees on July 30, 2011.
The offensive barrage was enough for Texas lefty Derek Holland (8-6), who allowed three runs on five hits in seven solid innings.
Nick Markakis had three hits and all three RBI, including a run-scoring single in the third and two-run triple in the fifth.
The night could have represented much worse than just a loss in the standings. Orioles’ all-star catcher Matt Wieters left the game in the seventh with a right shoulder contusion that occurred in the second when he was hit with a foul tip.
He stayed in the game initially, but was taken out for precautionary reasons. An X-Ray was negative – good news for the Orioles on a rough night.