ARLINGTON, TEXAS — A day after the seventh inning showed the Orioles' greatest strength — their power at the plate — Saturday's seventh inning exposed one of their greatest questions: the starting rotation.
Having already coaxed a good start out of Yovani Gallardo, manager Buck Showalter sent him back out for the seventh inning and watched a two-run lead turn into an 8-4 loss to the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park.
Gallardo had thrown 96 pitches through six innings and was flattered by the results he'd gotten to that point, with Texas smacking eight hits and plenty of hard outs while scoring just twice.
Left-hander T.J. McFarland was warmed up to begin the seventh with three of the next four batters lefties. But Gallardo was allowed to walk No. 9 hitter Brett Nicholas, then give up a double to center fielder Delino DeShields before McFarland came in.
Texas batted around in the inning against Gallardo, McFarland and Mychal Givens, scoring seven runs by way of five hits, two walks and a two-base error in right field by Mark Trumbo.
The Orioles followed up their five-homer game Friday (featuring four in a record-setting seventh inning) by building a 4-1 lead with three solo shots Saturday. They lead the majors with 23 this season.
Right where they left off
What other way to begin a game after Friday's late home run outburst than with another rocket of a home run? After a long flyout by left fielder Joey Rickard, third baseman Manny Machado extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a home run into the Orioles bullpen in left-center.
It was Machado's fourth home run, but just his fifth RBI. He has hits in every game for the Orioles this season.
Jones joins the fun
Not one to be excluded from the home run party, center fielder Adam Jones hit his first of the season in the third inning. It was a towering shot to left-center field that might have been the longest hit by either team in the series.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, it was the longest home run of Jones' career at an estimated 460 feet.
Why not? After it looked like Rangers starter Colby Lewis was settling in, first baseman Chris Davis decided he would like to hit a home run, too. Davis yanked a first-pitch fastball to right field that barely eluded the leap of Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara, tying him with Trumbo for the team lead with five home runs.
The solo home runs staked the Orioles to an early lead, but they left plenty of run-scoring opportunities on the table. Through the first five innings, the Orioles left eight runners on base, low-lighted by a bases-loaded pop-up to end the second inning by Machado. They stranded nine overall and were 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Gallardo gets by
Gallardo said he has learned over the years to attack hitters more and pitch to contact in an effort to be more efficient.
He walked a tight-rope for most of his start Saturday, allowing a first-inning run and not having an inning under 20 pitches in his first three.
Three hitters worked three-ball counts in that first inning, and though he kept the Rangers off the board in the next two, they made him work for it. Texas had seven hits in the first five innings, and left six men on base.
Gallardo's first 1-2-3 inning came in the fourth, and Texas scratched another run across against him in the fifth. He also faced just three in the sixth before both batters he faced in the seventh reached. He finished with four earned runs in six-plus innings.
Alvarez drives one in
Alvarez drove in his first run as an Oriole with a two-out single to right field in the fifth inning for a 4-1 lead. He also drew his seventh walk in his first plate appearance, giving him the second most on the team behind Davis.