Texas Rangers: Jim Johnson
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It had become American League All-Star tradition to have New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera waiting in the bullpen to close the game in the ninth. But the 42-year-old Rivera isn't on the squad this year as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in May.
AL manager Ron Washington said he feels good about the five closers he has on the team, including Baltimore's Jim Johnson, Cleveland's Chris Perez, Tampa Bay's Fernando Rodney, Oakland's Ryan Cook and the Rangers' Joe Nathan. Washington chose Nathan and Cook.
"I'm very pleased with it," Washington said. "I think I've got the best that the American League has to offer and there's probably a couple of more than didn't come. If we get to that point, I think we'll be able to shut the game down very easily."
Washington said he had an idea of the player he wanted to close the game if the AL has the lead in the ninth, but he wasn't ready to make that public.
"Rivera's not here," Washington said. "I have quality options. We'll just see how the game flows and the way it works."
BALTIMORE -- It was a remarkable afternoon for Colby Lewis, who gave up homers to the first three batters he faced (on his first eight pitches), then retired the next 18 in a row and then gave up a solo homer to Adam Jones to start the seventh and a two-run shot to Wilson Betemit that same inning. The five homers allowed were the most of his career as were the 12 strikeouts (his previous high was 11 set last year). Rookie pitcher Wei-Yin Chen held the Rangers to two runs in 7 2/3 innings, helping the Orioles to their first win of the series in the 6-5 victory.
What it means: The Orioles can split the series if they can win the second game of the doubleheader.
Record book: Lewis is the first pitcher in big league history to allow five homers and strike out at least 10 batters in the same game. Since 1918, it's just the second time that a pitcher has thrown at least seven innings and all five of his hits allowed were homers (fifth overall in the bigs since that date to have all five hits allowed be homers). The only other Texas Rangers pitcher to allow five home runs hits as the only hits was Charlie Hough on June 24, 1989.
Trio of homers: Lewis allowed three straight homers to start the game as Ryan Flaherty (right field), J.J. Hardy (left field) and Nick Markakis (off the foul pole in right) made it 3-0 Baltimore. The Orioles are the first team to start a game with three homers since Milwaukee in 2007 (Weeks, Hardy, Braun). ... Baltimore is the first AL team to ever do it and fourth overall.
What a turnaround: Lewis bounced back in a big way. The right-hander had his slider working and set a career-high with 12 strikeouts, kept his pitch count under control and retired the next 18 batters he faced.
What a turnaround (the other way): Lewis couldn't hold his form in the seventh, giving up a solo homer to Jones and then, after a walk to Matt Wieters, he surrendered a two-run shot to Betemit. The five homers were a career high, one behind the club record of six set by R.A. Dickey in 2006. ... Lewis has given up 11 homers on the season, the second-most in the AL. ... He led the AL in homers allowed in 2011, giving up 35 (second-most in the big leagues). ... Of the 11 homers allowed by Lewis, eight have come against left-handed batters.
Hamilton encore: In his first game since making history with four homers in Tuesday's game, Josh Hamilton struck out in his first at-bat and ended up 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and a single.
Pinch-hit homer: David Murphy pinch-hit for Craig Gentry in the ninth with two men on base and one out. He hit a home run to right field off Orioles closer Jim Johnson to make it a 6-5 game.
Wasted opportunities: The Rangers loaded the bases with one out in the third but couldn't score. Elvis Andrus hit a ball back to the mound and starter Wei-Yin Chen came home to get the force out. The attempted double play throw hit Andrus in the back. So they stayed loaded for Hamilton, who hit a fly ball to left to end the inning. The deficit remained 3-0 at that point. ... In the eighth, the Rangers scored one and had two on with two outs for Michael Young, trying to put pressure on the Orioles. But Young struck out on a 3-2 pitch and Baltimore held its 6-2 lead.
Six straight Ks: Lewis had six straight strikeouts at one point early in his start, falling one short of the club record of seven set by Nolan Ryan (July 7, 1991) and Neftali Feliz (Aug. 7-13, 2009). He ended up striking out seven of eight batters in the first, second and third innings.
Good day for Torrealba at plate: The catcher came into Thursday batting just .196 with two RBIs. But he had a double in the third, an RBI single in the fourth and a double in the ninth. It was his first three-hit game since Game 3 of the ALCS in Detroit. It was his first regular season three-hit game since Aug. 8, 2011 vs. Seattle.
Communication breakdown: Elvis Andrus tried to catch a popup at the last second, bowling over Brandon Snyder who was camped under it near the mound in the seventh. Andrus was charged with the two-base error, but it didn't cost the Rangers a run.
Up next: The second game of this doubleheader features LHP Derek Holland (2-2, 4.43 ERA) against former Ranger RHP Tommy Hunter (2-1, 5.00 ERA).
* It was a big seventh inning for the Rangers with two outs. With a runner at third, Elvis Andrus drew a walk to bring Josh Hamilton to the plate. After Jim Johnson went 3-0 on Hamilton, he didn't just pitch around him to load the bases for Adrian Beltre. Instead, he tried to fight back and left a 3-1 pitch up. Hamilton hit it to left field to drive in one run. The throw came into third and hit Andrus, who was sliding in headfirst. It rolled toward the Orioles' dugout as Andrus jumped up and scampered home to give the Rangers the lead. Beltre then doubled (from his knee) to drive in Hamilton to make it 4-2 Rangers.
* The Rangers are second in the AL in RBIs with two outs with 143. All four runs on Tuesday were with two outs.
* Prior to Tuesday's comeback, Texas was 2-29 when behind after six innings.
* Hunter came in with the Rangers down 2-1 in the seventh. The Orioles had one runner on and no outs. Hunter got all three batters he faced and then got the win when the Rangers took the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
* Lowe was asked to pitch a shutdown inning in the eighth and did just that. He allowed a single up the middle (it was another chopper over the mound that Lowe wasn't in position to make), but he had his fastball working hard and down in the zone. His 98 mph fastball inside and low to right-handed hitting Mark Reynolds was one of the best he's thrown all year. Lowe has looked better and is getting chances late in tight games. I smell a good second half from him. We'll see.
* Feliz hit 100 mph on the radar gun twice to his first hitter, Blake Davis. And remember, the pitchers call the radar gun at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington "The Humbler." So he was really pumping it in there. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
* The Rangers' offense couldn't do much against minor league call-up Mitch Atkins. This was his first start of 2011 in the big leagues and he made it count. In the longest start of his major league career, he went six innings and allowed just one run. Atkins was 2-3 with a 3.11 ERA in 11 Triple-A starts. He looked ready on Tuesday, not issuing a walk and keeping the Rangers bats pretty quiet.
* Harrison did a good job of limiting damage in the first inning. His second pitch of the game was belted into the Rangers bullpen by J.J. Hardy, his 13th homer of the season. Harrison then allowed singles on the first pitch to the next two hitters, and after a Vladimir Guerrero grounder to the right side, both runners advanced. Harrison, though, was able to strike out Mark Reynolds after falling behind 2-0 (and 3-1) and then got All-Star Matt Wieters on a strikeout as well. Harrison got a 1-2-3 second inning, so getting out of that first-inning jam may have helped his confidence.
* Leadoff homers hurt Harrison as he gave up one to Hardy in the first and another to Wieters in the fourth. But Harrison ended up allowing just two runs despite surrendering 11 hits. He lasted 6 1/3 innings and didn't walk anyone with five strikeouts. It was a quality start.
* Andrus made a mental mistake when he fielded a routine ground ball from Nolan Reimold but took too long to throw to first. His throw was late and Reimold beat out a play that should have been an out. It was scored an infield hit. The runner didn't score, but Harrison had to throw more pitches because of the mistake. Andrus came into the game with 16 errors in 2011, the same number he had in all of 2010.
* Andrus made amends with a tremendous seventh inning. He backhanded a Jones hit that went under the outstretched glove of Michael Young. Andrus was able to get the force out at second. He then turned a double play at second, stepping on the bag after Ian Kinsler's flip, leaping out of the way of Jones and then throwing to first to get Guerrero and keep it a 2-1 game.
* Endy Chavez played well again. After going 2-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs Monday, Chavez got a single his first time up in the third. He also made a nice catch in the fourth inning on a long fly ball hit by Derrek Lee. Chavez stretched at the wall and made the play. He executed a nice sac bunt in the seventh inning (twice as the HP umpire missed the first one).
* Young had three hits, just one night after nearly hitting for the cycle. It was his 13th game of three-plus hits, tied for second most in the AL.
* Nelson Cruz delivered a two-strike single to center to score the club's first run in the sixth.
* The sun got to Hamilton early in Tuesday's game. It shines right down at the left fielder and on Nick Markakis' fly ball to left, Hamilton was fighting to see. Markakis would have had a hit anyway, but early in the game, the sun makes it tough out there. By the end of the first, left field was pretty much in the shade.
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