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Wojciechowski, bullpen hit hard as Orioles suffer four-game home sweep with 10-4 loss to Rangers

Sunday’s matchup with the Texas Rangers marked the Orioles’ fifth shot to match their 2018 win total since reaching 46 victories in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader with the Tampa Bay Rays. Like the prior four, it ended with them still stuck there.

The Rangers completed a four-game sweep of the Orioles with a 10-4 victory Sunday at Camden Yards, handing Baltimore its fifth losing streak of at least five games in 2019. This one came with the Orioles on the verge of surpassing their number of wins in going a franchise-worst 47-115 in 2018.

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Sunday’s defeat was similar to Saturday’s, with a pitcher who joined the Orioles (46-97) in the middle of the season struggling from the onset. Asher Wojciechowski performed well in his first month with the club, but Sunday’s start of four runs in two innings gave him a 7.05 ERA since Aug. 1. His 151 2/3 innings between the Orioles and the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A affiliate are his most since he threw 160 in the Houston Astros’ system in 2013.

“I’m starting to feel it, but it’s my job to pitch this amount of innings,” Wojciechowski said. “I’d say for the last few weeks, definitely am feeling the effects of it. You can see just the life on my fastball, the sharpness of all my pitches. But I’ve got to be able to find a way to get through it, just like today. It was a struggle. Six singles, and four runs. I feel like the ball didn’t really fall my way today. I’ve got to find a way. I’ve got to finish strong.”

The Rangers (72-73) struck first on a single by Nick Solak in the first inning, and when Solak came up again with the bases loaded in the second and another run already in, he singled through the right side to score two more off Wojciechowski.

“I just thought he was battling from the first pitch,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He threw a lot of innings this year, and we’re probably going to push him back a few days before his next start. He’s just throwing a lot of innings, and he’s kind of a max-effort guy and gives you everything he’s got out there. I just thought today, he was really battling himself. I think we need to give him a little bit of a breather.”

Unlike Saturday, when the Orioles bullpen settled in behind Aaron Brooks, it offered little relief Sunday. Gabriel Ynoa, the losing pitcher in the game that began the string of defeats, replaced Wojciechowski to start the third and surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced, Ronald Guzmán. Rougned Odor, the first batter of the fourth, took Ynoa deep as well, and when Logan Forsythe singled later in the inning, every Rangers batter had at least one hit. Texas finished the game with 20 hits.

In the fifth, Tanner Scott retired three of four batters for the Orioles’ first scoreless inning of the day. Dillon Tate started the sixth with two walks and a hit batter, and all three came home in the inning. Texas scored its 10th run off David Hess in the seventh; it was the American League-leading 25th time an opponent has scored in double digits against the Orioles.

“We had a tough time on the mound the last couple nights,” Hyde said.

Three-hit Hanser

On a day and in a series the Orioles offense struggled against his former team, Hanser Alberto capitalized on his meetings with All-Star left-hander Mike Minor.

Alberto, the major league leader in batting average against lefties, raised that mark to .420 with three singles off Minor, half their hits in the Texas ace’s eight innings. Alberto now has 84 hits against left-handers, an Orioles record and tied with Ichiro Suzuki for the most in the majors since 1987. His family back in the Dominican Republic had been reminding him as he got closer to Suzuki’s 2004 mark, which Alberto said Sunday he’s been paying closer attention to than the AL batting title race.

“There’s a lot of games left,” Alberto said. "Take it day by day. Got to keep consistent, try to finish strong and see what happens.”

For the season, Alberto is batting .321, doing most of his damage with singles; he entered Sunday’s game with the fourth-highest batting average in the AL but the second-lowest slugging percentage among the league’s top 29 hitters.

Núñez goes deep

Renato Núñez provided a jolt of offense in the bottom of the second with a solo shot off Minor.

The home run was 29th of the year, putting him one behind Trey Mancini for the team lead. Another homer by Núñez would make him and Mancini the sixth Orioles tandem in the past nine seasons to each hit 30 home runs while under the age of 30. The franchise had no such pairings before 2011.

Núñez’s homer was his first since Aug. 21, with that blast being his third in an eight-game span.

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“It was nice to see Nuney hit that home run,” Hyde said. “His homers kind of come in bunches, so I hope that he continues into the next series.”

Pedro Severino added two RBIs, hitting a run-scoring double in the fifth and walking with the bases loaded in the ninth. Richie Martin reached on a fielder’s choice with the bases still full for the final run.

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