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Orioles’ early offense vs. Rangers backs sharp Jorge López in 5-2 win

Even as they have struggled through the first two weeks of the season, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has repeatedly expressed confidence in his hitters.

“You look at our numbers, and six months from now, they’re not going to look like that,” Hyde said before Friday’s game. “I really think that we have some good hitters on this team.”

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They backed him up on that belief in a 5-2 victory against the Texas Rangers, a strong performance after they entered batting .218 and losers of eight of the previous 10 games. The moderate outburst provided some run support for right-hander Jorge López in his first strong outing of the young season as the Orioles (6-8) improved to 5-2 away from Camden Yards.

Having struggled for most of his first two weeks as an Oriole, shortstop Freddy Galvis carried over the momentum from his home run in Thursday’s doubleheader by starting the third inning with a triple off Mike Foltynewicz. Cedric Mullins, restarting his hot streak after an 0-for-6 doubleheader, doubled him home.

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Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Jorge Lopez throws during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Friday, April 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Jorge Lopez throws during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Friday, April 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman) (Roger Steinman / AP)

After Rio Ruiz showed he might be starting an offensive turnaround by homering the other way in the fourth inning, the Orioles added three more runs in the fifth. Galvis led off with a double, moved to third on a Mullins single, and scored on Anthony Santander’s sacrifice fly.

DJ Stewart then brought in Mullins with a two-run home run, his first since coming off the injured list for a hamstring strain suffered in spring training. The shot raised his OPS to .935.

“It was huge, just momentum-wise, confidence-wise,” Stewart said. “We had a meeting this morning. Sometimes, that’s how baseball is, it’s just not going our way, unlucky things, but it was big for us to kind of get some early and kind of put them away.”

The Orioles went quietly from there, but Paul Fry, Dillon Tate, Adam Plutko and César Valdez combined for four scoreless innings behind López as the Orioles struck out 15 as a staff.

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ARLINGTON, TEXAS - APRIL 16: DJ Stewart #24 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates his two-run home run against the Texas Rangers with Cedric Mullins #31 in the fifth inning at Globe Life Field on April 16, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, CM - OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD **
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - APRIL 16: DJ Stewart #24 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates his two-run home run against the Texas Rangers with Cedric Mullins #31 in the fifth inning at Globe Life Field on April 16, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, CM - OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD ** (Richard Rodriguez / Getty Images)

Third time’s the charm

After struggling mightily in his first two outings of 2021, López retired the first 11 Rangers, striking out seven before walking Joey Gallo, then ended the fourth inning with his eighth punchout. His 97.2 mph sinker to strikeout Nick Solak and end the second was the hardest-thrown pitch of his career, per Statcast.

López’s bid to join San Diego’s Joe Musgrove in no-hitting the Rangers at their new ballpark ended when David Dahl homered to open the fifth. Solak then did the same just beyond the reach of Santander in right to cut Baltimore’s advantage to 5-2, but López recovered to retire the next three batters.

“It was so much different from the first two today,” López said. “So much better when I give trust and believe in me, and every pitch I threw, just attacking.”

Hyde ended his outing at 75 pitches, leaving López with a positive ending to a start for the first time this season.

“I was so encouraged by the first four innings,” Hyde said. “That was so aggressive, using his fastball to both sides of the plate, showing a good curveball. Just dominating. Hopefully, he can build off this one.”

Around the horn

» Right-hander Dean Kremer will start Saturday’s game on three day’s rest after he threw 54 pitches. “He’s plenty rested and ready to go,” Hyde said.

» Hyde said the hope is that outfielder Austin Hays (right hamstring strain) is activated off the injured list by either Sunday’s series finale or Tuesday’s opener against the Miami Marlins.

» Outfielder Yusniel Diaz, the centerpiece of the Manny Machado trade, is on the Orioles’ five-man taxi squad for this road trip, joining catcher Austin Wynns, infielder Richie Martin, and right-handers Isaac Mattson and Cole Sulser.

ORIOLES@RANGERS

Saturday, 7:05 p.m.

TV: MASN Radio: 105.7 FM

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