Maybe it's the summer air at Camden Yards, maybe it's the curse of the Texas Rangers, or maybe it's as simple as starting pitchers struggling with command.
Whatever the reason, the Rangers once again hit several baseballs a long way Tuesday night to beat the Orioles, 8-6, at Camden Yards.
For the second consecutive evening, the Rangers used four home runs — including Mitch Moreland's second straight multi-homer game — to outlast an Orioles club that slugged three longballs of its own.
“This park is notorious for the ball carrying and that's one of the great things about it as an offensive player but one of the tough things about it as a defensive player,” said Orioles right fielder Chris Davis, who hit two two-run homers Tuesday. “You know if you get a good night, it's hot and the wind is blowing out a little bit, you square it up and it's going to go.”
Before an announced 27,370, the ball went out plenty, as it always seems to do when the Rangers (40-38) are playing the Orioles (41-36).
In 45 games against Texas at Camden Yards since 2005, the Rangers have slammed four or more home runs an incredible seven times, scoring a total of 88 runs.
Those were some of the most memorable — or infamous — in recent memory in Baltimore. Like in 2006 when Severna Park's own Mark Teixeira hit three homers, or in 2012 when Josh Hamilton smacked four in one game. And then there was Aug. 22, 2007, when the Rangers used six homers to historically trounce the Orioles, 30-3,b in the first game of a doubleheader.
“If you look at their track record, they have that [power]. Usually, sooner or later during the course of the season, it plays,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who managed the Rangers from 2003-06. “Unfortunately the last two nights we've caught them at that time.”
These Rangers don't have the same prodigious power as some of their previous incarnations, but they can still occasionally hammer the baseball — especially in Camden Yards.
“Maybe you do some assessing on how the ball flies here in Baltimore because, man, when it's hot and humid, it jumps,” said Rangers starter Colby Lewis (8-3), who gave up five runs (three earned) on three homers in six innings and still won.
Moreland was the hero — again. He has four homers and seven RBIs in eight at-bats in the first two nights of this four-game series.
“Just trying to see it well and be ready to hit. It's worked out,” Moreland said. “A couple of them have been maybe a little helped by the ballpark. It's a great hitters' park. It's fun to come out and be able to do that."
Davis provided all of the Orioles' offense on two swings through the first three innings.
In the first, after Adam Jones reached on a two-out error by Texas second baseman Rougned Odor, Davis hit a full-count fastball from his former Rangers teammate, Lewis, to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.
In the third, Davis smashed a Lewis changeup to nearly the same spot in right-center for his second two-run homer in two at-bats. It was his ninth career multi-homer game and second this season. The first was May 27 against the Houston Astros at Camden Yards.
“He can create a lot of damage in a hurry and really be a force for us,” Showalter said about Davis. “He already has this year. That's why when he goes through some challenging times, you know there [are] good things potentially to happen around every corner.”
Seven times an Oriole has hit two homers in a game this year and six times it has been at home.
With the two longballs, Davis padded his team lead with 18. He also extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Third baseman Manny Machado closed in on Davis with a solo homer to right in the fifth, his 16th of the year. It put the Orioles within one run, 6-5, and extended Machado's hitting streak to 12 games.
“[It's] big for us, especially the top of the lineup, Manny getting on base,” catcher Matt Wieters said. “And when CD gets hot, there aren't many guys who can hit a ball further and more consistently than him.”
The Rangers widened the gap to three runs in the eighth on Moreland's 14th homer of the season. The two-run blast to left came against reliever Chaz Roe, who had allowed just two runs in his first 20 innings as an Oriole.
Texas' other three longballs came against Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez: Moreland's in the second inning and solo shots by Robinson Chirinos and Shin-Soo Choo in the fifth.
Gonzalez (6-5) was charged with six runs on eight hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings. It was the most runs he has allowed this season and most since permitting seven on April 4, 2014 in Detroit. His 2015 season ERA jumped from 3.58 to 4.04. The last time the right-hander had an ERA over 4.00 was July 2014.
“I feel bad that we couldn't win this game because I didn't do my job,” Gonzalez said. “Our hitters have been working hard to get runs, and we were short today.”
The damage could have been worse, but reliever Brad Brach entered with Prince Fielder on first and one out in the fifth and got Adrian Beltre to ground into an inning-ending double play. Brach pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Rangers bullpen didn't give up another run until two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Travis Snider singled to right against Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson to score J.J. Hardy. Tolleson then struck out Ryan Flaherty to pick up his 11th save of the season.
Ultimately, the homer-happy Orioles lost their own type of ballgame in their own ballpark. Wieters said there is a simple explanation for the club's last two beatings by the Rangers that has little to do with humidity or ballpark dimensions or opposing lineups.
“We've just got to make better pitches. Ballpark or not, you make good pitches it's tough to hit a ball out,” Wieters said. “You get behind and you leave some balls up in the zone, it's going to be tough.”