The Orioles begin their final road series of the season Thursday night when they open a four-game set against the Rangers.
Before facing the Rangers at home in a doubleheader on Aug. 22, Baltimore was seven games under .500 and challenging for third place in the AL East. A few hours later, the Orioles were nine games under and reeling from a remarkable 30-3 loss in the opener.
Texas became the first team in 110 years to score 30 runs in a game, handing Baltimore (64-87) its worst loss in franchise history.
The doubleheader sweep sent the Orioles into a 6-22 tailspin that has them two games ahead of Tampa Bay in the race to avoid baseball’s worst record.
Injuries to top starters Erik Bedard and Jeremy Guthrie, and a lack of organizational depth have contributed to Baltimore’s 7.11 ERA in September. The Orioles have allowed 10 runs or more 16 times, with eight coming in the past 27 games.
Brian Burres gave the Orioles a rare strong outing from their starter Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, but the offense was nearly non-existent again in a 2-1 loss.
“We fully expected to win tonight,” manager Dave Trembley said. “It didn’t happen, but not because we didn’t put forth the effort.”
Baltimore batted .242 (24-for-99) and scored only six runs in three straight losses to the Yankees.
It was the Orioles’ major league-leading 29th one-run loss. They also have the fewest one-run wins of any team with 11.
Texas (70-82) is hoping to avoid finishing last in the West, but hasn’t helped itself by losing eight of nine following a season-high six-game win streak. The Rangers also were swept in their last series, losing three straight at Minnesota, including a 4-2 defeat on Wednesday.
“Hopefully we get back to Texas, back to home cooking, back to their own beds, back to their families, and hopefully for the seven games at home we can pick it up again,” manager Ron Washington said.
Texas has won 11 of its last 15 games against the Orioles, including four of six this season.
Victor Zambrano (0-2, 7.98 ERA) makes his first start in an Orioles uniform. The right-hander, acquired from Pittsburgh on Sept. 9 for cash considerations, pitched four scoreless innings in relief in his Orioles debut Sunday at Toronto. This will be Zambrano’s first major league start since May 28, when he gave up eight runs and eight hits over 2 2-3 innings for Toronto in a 9-2 loss to Boston.
Zambrano has pitched three innings or fewer in each of his last three starts, dating to last season.
He is 1-2 with a 6.26 ERA in four career starts against the Rangers, but hasn’t faced them since May 4, 2004 with Tampa Bay.
Brandon McCarthy (5-10, 5.07) hopes to end a personal three-game losing streak. McCarthy lost his third straight decision Saturday at Oakland, allowing two runs and three hits in three innings of a 7-3 defeat. Because it was only his second start since missing a month with a right shoulder injury, the right-hander was limited to only 52 pitches.
McCarthy, who has lasted nine total innings in his last three starts, was a tough-luck 3-0 loser to the Orioles on July 7. He was matched up against Bedard, who threw a two-hitter with 15 strikeouts.