Tommy Hunter exits Wednesday night's game in the fourth… (Tim Heitman, US PRESSWIRE )
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter has stressed all season that one game can't mean too much — whether it's an inspiring comeback or an epic clunker.
Ponder what happened for a few minutes post-game, Showalter preaches, and then turn the page.
Given that thinking, the Orioles need to treat Wednesday's 12-3 pummeling by the Texas Rangers like a spellbinding thriller. And flip through it quickly.
“We are playing with house money. We're not supposed to be where we are,” Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds said. “We're just going to go … all out the rest of the way and see what happens. See where we are at the end of the day. Everyone in here wants to get to the postseason, and obviously that's our goal now.”
In what is shaping up as their best season in more than a decade, the Orioles suffered through their ugliest inning of the year — a nine-run Ranger fourth that included a grand slam by Mitch Moreland and two two-run homers by Adrian Beltre.
Orioles starter Tommy Hunter (4-8) faced eight batters in the fourth, and he didn't retire one.
“I didn't get any outs,” Hunter said. “It [stinks], but that's the bottom line. You've got to execute pitches to get outs, and I didn't do it.”
Beltre had also homered in his first at-bat, a solo shot in the second inning, for the first three-homer regular-season game of his career. He also accomplished the feat in Game 4 of last year's American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Texas third baseman had two chances Wednesday to make it a four-homer game — which was last accomplished by his teammate, Josh Hamilton, on May 8 against the Orioles at Camden Yards — but he grounded out both times.
It's only the second time in modern baseball history that one team has allowed a three-homer game and a four-homer game to teammates in the same season. According to baseball historian David Vincent, the 1936 Pittsburgh Pirates allowed it to happen for Philadelphia's Chuck Klein (four homers) and Johnny Moore (three) in two July games that year.
The Orioles (67-57) were attempting to win four consecutive road series for just the second time this season, but the dropped the rubber match in unimpressive fashion. The Rangers (72-51) ended the season series with the Orioles winning five of seven.
Coincidentally, Wednesday marked the five-year anniversary of the Orioles' worst loss in franchise history, a 30-3 embarrassment by, yes, the Rangers at Camden Yards.
Still, these Orioles return home for Friday's series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays having gone 3-3 on a tough trip to Detroit and Texas and 12-6 in their last 18 games.
“I think it's a great road trip,” said right fielder Nick Markakis, who had three hits and all three Orioles RBIs on Wednesday. “Any time you can come out .500 on the road against these two teams is definitely good. We wanted to win a game or two more, but that's how it goes. We can't hang our heads.”
Hunter lasted just three-plus innings and was charged with eight runs on eight hits, two walks, and three homers. The right-hander has now served up a major league worst 32 homers in 121 innings.
“It is something he has been challenged with, and [he] hasn't been able to overcome it,” Showalter said of Hunter's tendency to allow homers. “It's something that is going to be a challenge for him if he can't find a way to rectify it.”
Hunter is on his way to an infamous distinction. He has now allowed 2.38 homers per nine innings this season. If that figure holds, it would be the worst homer-to-innings ratio in modern baseball history for ERA qualifiers, topping the 2.20 mark of Houston's Jose Lima in 2000.
“I don't go out there and try to give them up. I don't go out and say, ‘Hey, here's a fastball up and over the plate. Here, take it over the fence and let's lose the game.' That's not what I try to do,” Hunter said. “I didn't do my job tonight. I didn't keep the ball down, and I didn't give my team a chance to win. And as a starting pitcher, that's what you are supposed to do.”
On Wednesday, Hunter allowed Beltre's first two homers and Moreland's first grand slam of his career. Kevin Gregg gave up Beltre's other home run in the fourth, an inning in which the Rangers sent 12 batters to the plate.
The Orioles hadn't allowed eight hits in an inning since giving up 10 to the Kansas City Royals in the sixth on Aug. 4, 2011. They hadn't yielded as many as nine runs in an inning since permitting 12 to the New York Yankees on July 30, 2011.
The fourth-inning barrage was enough for Texas lefty Derek Holland (8-6), who allowed three runs on five hits in seven solid innings. Markakis was the Orioles' offense, with two singles and a two-run triple in the fifth.
The night could have been much worse for the Orioles, however. All-Star catcher Matt Wieters left the game in the seventh inning with a right shoulder contusion that occurred when he was hit in the shoulder joint with a foul tip in the second.
He stayed in the game initially, but was taken out for precautionary reasons. An X-Ray was negative — good news for the Orioles on a rough night.
“I'm sure a good night's sleep on it and a good day off and we'll be good to go,” Wieters said.
Thursday's day off comes at a good time for Wieters and the Orioles. They expect to have Wednesday's page turned — maybe even ripped out — before they take the field Friday.
“This is a different team than we have had here before. It's just one game when it comes down to it,” Wieters said. “The off day will be good to get home and get a little bit of a break and then be ready to go.”