A six-run eighth inning that featured a 404-foot, three-run blast from former Ranger Nelson Cruz was the difference in an 8-3 Texas loss Tuesday night.
Alexi Ogando entered the game in a tie game to start the eighth, but the nos. 7-9 hitters for Baltimore reached on an infield single, a hit by pitch, and an RBI double. Neal Cotts relieved Ogando and allowed both inherited runners to score before Cruz launched the three-run homer over the seats in the left field home run porch on the first pitch from Shawn Tolleson.
"I wasn't consistent at all, I couldn't find the strike zone," Ogando said through his translator.
The score was tied on a Robinson Chirinos leadoff home run in the seventh inning. It was the third homer of the year and the second extra-base hit of the night for Chirinos.
Delmon Young had singled home a go-ahead run in the sixth inning with a single to left that scored Adam Jones.
The two clubs traded leadoff home runs in the fourth inning.
Jones broke a scoreless tie with a solo home run off the foul pole in right field to start the Baltimore half of the fourth. Adrian Beltre would send a 1-0 pitch 376 feet to left field in the bottom of the inning.
The scoreboard shows the ten runs that crossed the plate Tuesday night, but the story of the game through the first seven innings was the runs that didn’t. Joe Saunders went six-plus innings and allowed just two runs, but minimized the damage done by 10 Oriole hits.
Baltimore threatened later in the fourth after Jones’s homer, when Jonathan Schoop doubled to right-center with two outs. J.J. Hardy, who singled with one out, was unable to score from first after a quick relay from Alex Rios and Rougned Odor.
Cruz’s home run was the third ball he had hit hard on the night. He lined sharply to center and to right after a walk in his first at-bat. The fifth-inning single from Delmon Young could’ve plated two Orioles, but Jones held at first base on a high fly ball from Chris Davis that hit off the wall with no outs.
Davis and Jones stood at first and second, respectively, after the hit that eluded Michael Choice in front of the 14-foot-high wall.
A double play ground ball from Schoop ended a scoring threat in the sixth for Baltimore.
"I tried to keep the ball on the ground the best I could and let me defense play for me," Saunders said. "I thought we did a pretty good job. We hung around the best we could."
The Rangers would leave Chirinos at third base in the the fifth inning after he led off the inning with a double to left. Strikeouts from Elvis Andrus and Shin-Soo Choo kept him from scoring.
Texas put two runners on with one out in the following inning, but stranded both.
Jason Frasor relieved Saunders in the seventh with two men aboard and no outs, but he carved up the 2-3-4 hitters in the Oriole lineup to get out of the inning unscathed. It looked like a game defined by missed chances until Nelson Cruz sent a shockwave of nostalgia through the remaining crowd at Globe Life Park.
Baltimore totaled 17 hits in the game.
A sacrifice fly from Alex Rios scored the third Ranger run after Leonys Martin tripled down the right field line to narrow the final margin to five runs.
The Rangers home record fell to 13-14 at home with the loss. The second game of the three-game series is slated for 7:05 p.m. Wednesday night.