BALTIMORE (AP) — Corey Seager hit his third career grand slam to highlight an eight-run fourth inning in the surging Texas Rangers' 12-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
The Rangers came in averaging a major league-best 6.33 runs, and they showed why during a wild fourth inning that featured a two-run homer by Robbie Grossman, two hits apiece by Josh Jung and Josh Smith, and Seager's bases-loaded shot to deep center.
“I tell ya, I've seen some good innings but that was really impressive,” manager Bruce Bochty said. “We did a lot of good things to keep things moving, and Corey got a pitch he could handle. That was the big blow.”
The outburst made it easy for Jon Gray (5-1) to win his career-best fourth consecutive start.
“The whole feel for the game changed after that,” Gray said. “It really flipped a switch, and momentum was on our side after that.”
The right-hander gave up one run and four hits over seven innings, striking out eight and walking one. He's got a 1.00 ERA during his four-game winning streak and 27 strikeouts over 27 innings.
“He's on a good roll," Bochty said. “He was on top of his game tonight.”
Texas has won nine of 12 and to reach 32-18, the third-best record in the majors behind Tampa Bay and Baltimore. The Rangers lead the AL West after finishing fourth last year with 94 losses.
Leody Travers hit a two-run homer in the second to give Texas the lead for good, and Marcus Semien extended his hitting streak to 15 games with an eighth-inning single.
The defeat blunted a nice run for the Orioles, who were coming off a trip in which they had three-game sweep of Toronto and took two of three from the Yankees. Showing off their new black City Connect uniforms before a crowd of 20,293 fans, Baltimore got a first-inning homer from Adley Rutschman before falling behind 10-1 in the fourth.
Orioles rookie Grayson Rodriguez (2-2) allowed eight earned runs and six hits, including three homers, in 3 1/3 innings. It was the second time in three outings that the right-hander gave up eight runs, and as a result he's toting a lofty 7.35 ERA after 10 starts.
With the game out of hand and his bullpen nearly depleted, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde called upon outfielder Ryan McKenna to pitch the ninth. Throwing looping pitches clocked around 35 mph, McKenna gave up two runs before inducing Sandy Leon to hit into an inning-ending double play.
“That’s the last thing I want to do," Hyde said of using a position player to pitch. "Everybody hates it. I didn’t want to pitch (Bryan) Baker. So I brought in the flamethrower throwing the shot put up there.”
Rangers: RHP Jacob deGrom (right elbow inflammation) threw 31 pitches in a bullpen session before the game as he strives to return from the injured list. Bochty says the team will map out a plan for the next step after determining if deGrom feels any lingering pain.
Orioles: INF Ramón Urías (left hamstring strain) was reinstated from the 10-day injured list. INF Joey Ortiz was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. ... The timetable for LHP John Means' return from Tommy John surgery has been moved back after the 2019 All-Star strained the scapula region in his upper back during a workout. GM Mike Elias said, "We’re still very much hoping on getting him back this season, but this is obviously going to slow things down.”
Rangers LHP Andrew Heaney (3-3, 4.13 ERA) starts on Saturday in the second game of the series. He's 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA in eight starts since yielding seven runs over 2 2/3 innings against Baltimore on April 4. Orioles RHP Dean Kremer (5-1, 4.61) looks to cap a strong month in which he's gone 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA.
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