The pitching staffs of the Orioles and Texas Rangers have a lot in common -- neither has performed especially well this season. For the Orioles, poor pitching has been only one problem on a team rife with inconsistency. For the Rangers, it may spell the end of their pennant aspirations.
The Rangers' staff ERA has climbed above 4 1/2 runs a game. Texas starters have been particularly ineffective of late, compiling a 6.47 ERA in the last 18 games. Over the past nine games, they have allowed 68 hits and 44 earned runs in 40 2/3 innings. No Texas starter has won in the 10 games, despite the Rangers' booming bats.
The Texas bullpen has been almost as ineffective as the starters -- it has a 5.27 ERA in the last 17 games. Relievers already have given up 46 home runs, opposed to 26 all of last season.
Both teams will be looking for positive signs from youngsters tonight when rookies Mike Mussina and Gerald Alexander take the mound.
Alexander (5-2, 3.89) will be making his first start since being recalled from AAA Oklahoma City July 27. Alexander started the season in Oklahoma City, but was summoned to Texas on April 23. After giving up 26 earned runs in 36 1/3 innings he was sent back down July 22.
In three relief appearances since his recall, Alexander has yielded four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.
Earlier in the season Toronto manager Cito Gaston said Alexander had the second best curveball in the league. Whose was better, according to Gaston? Only that of the Orioles' Gregg Olson.
Mussina (0-2, 4.91) will try to rebound from a rough outing last Friday when he lasted only 3 1/3 innings, gave up 11 hits and five earned runs in a 7-4 loss to Chicago.