By Alejandro Zuniga
The Baltimore Sun
9:00 AM EDT, July 4, 2014
For the first time since April 26, the Orioles won a game without hitting a home run.
On a cool Thursday night at Camden Yards, the Orioles completed a sweep of the Texas Rangers with a 5-2 victory, and not one of their 12 hits left the park.
Entering Thursday, all 33 of the club’s wins since May 1 had included a home run. The last time one didn’t, the Orioles capitalized on consecutive errors to top the Kansas City Royals in extra innings, 3-2. That win, on April 26, improved their record to 12-11.
But Thursday, 62 games later, the Orioles needed no help manufacturing runs the old-fashioned way.
They stole four bases, taking advantage of a Rangers shift for Orioles slugger Chris Davis that left third base unattended. They advanced runners with sacrifice flies. And they delivered when it counted, going 6-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
“We’re relying on some people, and people are stepping up,” said left fielder Steve Pearce, who finished the night 4-for-5. “We’re pitching, we’re hitting, we’re having timely hitting. We’re finding ways to get it done.”
It was no exhibition of small ball, though. The Orioles set a season high with six doubles.
In the first inning, Pearce ripped a line drive that, on a different night, might have cleared the wall in center field. But Thursday, with the Baltimore heat cooled by storms and a soft breeze blowing in from right field, the ball dropped for a two-base hit.
In the fourth, Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin made a leaping catch on a similarly hit ball, robbing second baseman Jonathan Schoop of a double or more.
And the Rangers simply took the bat out of Nelson Cruz’s hands by twice walking him intentionally with runners on base, stripping the Orioles’ most powerful hitter of the chance to do what he does best: blast home runs.
It worked, but only partly. Cruz finished without a hit and the Orioles finished without a home run, but they pieced together runs in other ways to finish the sweep.
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