ARLINGTON, Texas – Ross Wolf didn’t do anything Saturday night to quiet those who believe the Texas Rangers desperately need to add a starting pitcher before the July 31 trade deadline.
The minor leaguer turned middle man turned rotation member retired just six batters as Baltimore jumped out to a 7-0 lead on its way to a 7-4 victory over Texas.
The Rangers, who are still actively seeking rotation help, have now dropped six of seven games as they scramble to piece together a staff that’s already used nine starters. The loss also gives the Orioles their first series win over Texas since a 2010 series that featured the Rangers’ debut of Cliff Lee.
Wolf, who pitched well in his only other start vs. the Orioles before the All-Star break, was bad from the start Saturday. Baltimore scored twice on him in the first and added another five in the third inning.
Effective in his long-man role with the club, Wolf forced the Rangers to go to the bullpen early as he allowed the first four batters to reach in the third inning before he was pulled for Joseph Ortiz. The ugly line for Wolf included nine hits allowed and just six outs recorded.
“Execution,” Wolf said when asked to sum up his struggles Saturday. “I feel like the ones I did execute they just seemed like they found a hole every time. They (the Orioles) are a good lineup. You can’t make mistakes and they punished the mistakes.”
Wolf allowed four hits in the first, one in the second and four more in the third. He did manage to avoid a huge first inning by getting a pair of strikeouts with the bases loaded, but all that did was slow down the Orioles, not stop them.
Adam Jones opened the third inning with a homer to center to make it 3-0 and the next five Baltimore hitters reached, with Brian Roberts ended the outburst with a two-run single to right.
“They came out and they jumped on him early,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “When he made a good pitch down, they hit it. When he made pitches up, they hit it. They found holes. In the first three innings, they kept finding holes. They put the ball in play and made something happen.”
Certainly a trade target like Matt Garza or Jake Peavy would have helped Texas Saturday night, but it wouldn’t hurt if a new starter also came with a bat to help the offense.
The Rangers did score four times, but all four of the runs came after the sixth inning when the Orioles were already comfortably ahead. The Rangers did make things interesting and had the tying run at the plate with two outs in the ninth, but Jim Johnson got A.J. Pierzynski to ground out to end the game.
At least the Rangers did manage some offense. Texas had 14 hits, but was only able to translate that into four runs. That’s the fewest runs scored by a Texas team with at least 14 hits since 1999.
“It’s amazing how routine baseball is,” said Murphy, who matched his season high for hits. “You get away from the field a few days and it takes you a few days to get back in sync. In my opinion we’re still getting the rust off a little bit from the All-Star break the last few days.”
Washington hopes the offense can get going a little sooner in games.
Saturday the Rangers had nothing early for Miguel Gonzalez despite tallying hits off him in each of the first four innings. By the time it did get going, the hole Wolf had created was too big.
“I thought in the first couple of innings we were centering some baseballs,” Washington said. “We just weren’t centering them good enough because it could have made a difference especially after they scored the first two runs. I thought the one Kinsler hit (in the first) had a chance. I thought the one Cruz hit (in the third) had a chance but it didn’t. If we could have got some runs on the board there it may have made a difference but we didn’t stop them in the first three innings.”