Having already stifled the Royals twice in five weeks, Ogando looks to build on the best outing of his career in Sunday’s series finale at Rangers Ballpark.
As a rookie last season, Ogando (5-0, 1.81 ERA) worked exclusively as a setup reliever for Texas (27-25). He was expected to pitch out of the bullpen again this year, but joined the starting rotation at the end of spring training after Tommy Hunter’s(notes) right groin injury.
That move by manager Ron Washington has proven wise.
Ogando has pitched at least six innings in each of his first nine starts, matching Kevin Millwood(notes) (2009) as the only Rangers pitchers in opening-day rotations to accomplish that over the past decade.
Ogando was at his best against the Chicago White Sox on Monday, throwing a five-hitter in a 4-0 win. The right-hander struck out six and walked three.
Ogando has now yielded two runs or fewer in all but one of his starts, and his ERA ranks second in the AL.
“If you work hard and do your job, anything can happen,” Ogando said through a translator. “I’m learning more every inning. I know that I’m getting more and getting more experience. I feel more confident every time I get out there.”
Five days before shutting out the White Sox, Ogando allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings of a 5-4, 11-inning win in Kansas City. That was his second solid outing against the Royals (23-28), as he gave up one run and five hits in six innings of a 3-1 victory over them April 23.
The Rangers had little trouble offensively against Kansas City on Saturday, homering five times in a 10-1 victory, their fifth win in seven meetings this season.
Mitch Moreland(notes), Mike Napoli(notes) and Endy Chavez(notes) - the bottom three batters in Texas’ lineup - hit back-to-back-to-back homers to lead off the second inning, matching a club record. Adrian Beltre(notes) added his team-best 11th homer, and Nelson Cruz(notes) connected for his ninth as the Rangers won for the fourth time in six games.
“We go up to the plate trying to hit the ball hard somewhere and let the result happen,” said Napoli, who had been in a 4-for-25 slump.
Texas, tied for fourth in the majors with 56 home runs, is an AL-best 18-6 when hitting at least one.
The Rangers didn’t leave the yard once against Danny Duffy(notes) (0-0, 3.86), who made his major league debut against Ogando on May 18. The 22-year-old left-hander allowed two runs, four hits and six walks in four innings.
Duffy had slightly better command in his second start Tuesday in Baltimore, permitting two runs, five hits and three walks while striking out six in 5 1-3 innings. He left in position to earn his first big league win, but the Orioles rallied for three runs in the ninth to hand the Royals a 5-3 defeat.
“He will get deeper in the games,” manager Ned Yost said. “He did very well.”
Yost’s club lost for the 11th time in 14 games Saturday, and fell to 3-13 on the road since April 22.
Butler is 0 for 6 against Ogando.