The Texas Rangers might be just what the doctor ordered for the Orioles this weekend.
These are the ever-rebuilding Rangers who have been, through the years, perennial Oriole patsies. Since the Washington Senators moved to Texas in 1972, the Orioles are 132-84 against the franchise, their best record against any club.
Baltimore took the season series a year ago, 8-4, outscoring the Rangers by 29 runs.
The Orioles open a three-game series in Texas tonight (8:35, Ch. 2) still looking for their first win of the season, but bolstered by the knowledge they have a record of 70-39 at Arlington Stadium. Better yet, they have their "stopper" on the mound. Dave Johnson, who was 9-0 pitching after an Orioles loss last season, will oppose Bobby Witt.
Johnson, however, doesn't attach any significance to the 9-0 mark.
"It doesn't mean diddly squat," he said. "It's something you look back on and say 'Neat,' but it's purely coincidence . . . If nothing else, your teammates know you will buckle down in that situation."
Despite an 0-2 start and a team batting average of .119, Johnson said there's no reason for panic.
"This is a great offensive club," he said. "It's going to happen. All we were talking about all spring was how we were going to do it. Nobody on this team is thinking we're not as good as we thought we were."
Tomorrow night's pitching matchup has Jeff Ballard going against Texas lefthander Kenny Rogers in an 8:35 p.m. game (Ch. 2). Sunday, Jeff Robinson makes his Orioles debut, facing Nolan Ryan in a 3:05 start (Ch. 2).
Ryan faces the Orioles for the first time since the 1989 season. He is 5-16 lifetime against them with nine straight losses. He hasn't beaten the Orioles since April 20, 1976, when he pitched for California.
The Rangers have lost seven straight games, counting the last five of spring training.