But in his first major league start at Camden Yards in front of a small cheering contingent, the Christiana, Del., native pitched like an ace. The 24-year-old lefty threw seven shutout innings, scattering three hits, walking none and striking out six.
He faced 24 Orioles batters, three over the minimum, and he did it efficiently, throwing 87 pitches, 60 for strikes, as Houston blew out the Orioles, 11-0.
“He threw strikes, and he had a lead,” said center fielder Adam Jones, who went 0-for-3. “Tip your cap to him, man.”
The struggles persisted up and down the lineup. The Orioles managed to get four hits off of Houston's bullpen, but none led to runs. The Orioles also failed to draw a walk.
Right fielder Nick Markakis and designated hitter Steve Pearce were the only Orioles with multiple hits, and backup catcher Taylor Teagarden had the only extra-base hit when Astros center fielder L.J. Hoes was late to break on a fly ball and it bounced into the stands for a ground rule double in the ninth.
But the success of the Astros came back to Oberholtzer. The lefty retired 11 straight Orioles at one point from the end of the third inning to the beginning of the seventh. The Orioles were off balance and couldn’t find a rhythm at the plate.
Before the game, left fielder Nate McLouth, who went 1-for-4, said he thought the late pitching change — left-hander Erik Bedard was originally scheduled to start for Houston — would benefit the Orioles more than the Astros. But facing a player for the first time in his first start in a hostile environment, the Orioles couldn’t get the job done, as they lost for the sixth time in the past eight games.
“We came out of the All-Star break playing probably the best we’ve played all season, and we lost a couple of tough ones in Kansas City,” McLouth said. “I don’t know if I can put my finger on it. We just haven’t played well.”