BALTIMORE (AP) – The Texas Rangers went 72 games without hitting four home runs before realizing their potential for power against Bud Norris and the Baltimore Orioles.
Mitch Moreland homered twice, and the Rangers warmed up for Josh Hamilton’s return with an 8-1 blowout Monday night.
“It’s the type of offense that we know our club can be,” manager Jeff Banister said.
The Rangers have long been known as a free-swinging, hard-hitting team. That reputation will only be enhanced when Hamilton comes off the disabled list, likely Tuesday, after being sidelined for nearly a month with a strained left hamstring.
Hamilton homered twice in his seven games with Texas before going on the DL. Now, he’s poised to return at a stadium where he once homered four times in one game.
“I’m good to go,” Hamilton said Monday afternoon.
Prior to this game, Texas had lost seven of eight and was pressing at the plate. In this one, the Rangers banged out 14 hits, reached the eight-run mark for the first time since June 13 and tied a season high in homers set April 9 at Oakland.
“It seemed that every inning we had something going on,” Moreland said. “The kind of game you want to lead a series off with. A pretty complete game.”
Moreland hit a solo shot in the second inning and a two-run drive in the fourth. It was his sixth career two-homer game, the first since May 2013.
Carlos Corporan and Shin-Soo Choo each added a solo homer, and Joey Gallo contributed a three-run triple for the Rangers, who had lost 11 of 12 to the Orioles – including six straight at Camden Yards.
The loss ended Baltimore’s four-game winning streak and dropped the Orioles to 18-9 in June, 10-2 at home.
Texas starter Wandy Rodriguez (5-3) allowed one run and eight hits, striking out seven and walking two in five-plus innings. He is 5-0 with a 2.23 ERA in eight road starts this year.
Norris (2-7) gave up five runs and nine hits in six innings. The four home runs he allowed matched a career high.
“Three of the homers were on breaking balls, and one changeup. Just bad pitches,” the right-hander said. “It’s hard to go out there and pitch with just fastballs.”
The best part of the outing was that Norris spared Baltimore’s six-man relief crew by lasting 105 pitches.
“It was a challenge, but he kind of kept us from having to do too much in the bullpen,” manager Buck Showalter said. “That was a positive I’ll take out of it.”
In the second inning, Moreland hit a liner to right that appeared to bounce high off the 25-foot scoreboard. Moreland was thrown out at second base, but a replay determined the drive to be a home run.
Corporan hit his third home run of the season in the third inning, and Moreland made it 4-0 in the fourth.
Choo connected leading off the fifth, the second of his three hits. He entered in a 1-for-17 slump.
Adam Jones singled home a run in the Baltimore half. But with the bases loaded, Rodriguez struck out Chris Davis and retired Delmon Young on a fly to right.
Gallo’s first career triple, off Tommy Hunter with the bases loaded in the seventh, came after he struck out three times against Norris.
Rangers: Prince Fielder’s five-game run of multi-hit games ended.
Orioles: Baltimore lost its first home series opener since May 28, but Manny Machado extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
Rangers: LHP Matt Harrison (spinal fusion surgery) starts Wednesday for Triple-A Round Rock.
Orioles: 2B Jonathan Schoop (knee) will come off the DL this week. He’s ready now, but Showalter wants him to “get more work under his belt.”
Rangers: RHP Colby Lewis, who is 1-4 with a 6.35 ERA against Baltimore, takes the mound Tuesday night.
Orioles: Miguel Gonzalez (6-4, 3.58 ERA) looks to tie teammate Ubaldo Jimenez for most wins on the Baltimore pitching staff.