4-08-09 -- Aubrey Huff and the Baltimore Orioles are certainly enjoying the new season. And surprising a lot of people.
“We’ve already had more fun than at anytime last year,” Huff said after Baltimore’s sixth straight victory, 8-1 on Tuesday to ruin the Texas Rangers’ home opener.
Huff matched a career high with four hits and drove in four runs after Scott Moore and Luke Scott hit early home runs in the first road game for the Orioles (6-1), who have the American League’s best record. The winning streak already equals their longest of last season.
“We had six (last year)? It didn’t feel like it,” said Huff, referring to the 93-loss season when they finished fourth in the AL East for the ninth time in 10 years. “We’re relaxed. Everybody’s written us off.”
Moore led off the second with a homer, and Scott followed an inning later with a two-run shot that made it 4-0 against Jason Jennings (0-2). For the first time this season, the Orioles never trailed in the game.
“It’s a long season but you’ve got to like how we’ve started,” manager Dave Trembley said.
Brian Burres (1-0) allowed only one run pitching into the seventh, when he gave up a leadoff single that turned into the only Texas run. Burres struck out three and allowed seven hits, six of them singles.
That was a stark contrast from last August in his only other appearance against the Rangers, when the left-hander allowed eight runs and eight hits, including a grand slam, and got only two outs in a 30-3 loss.
“The guy couldn’t get an out on us,” Rangers catcher Gerald Laird said. “Today, he pitches a gem.”
The most lopsided loss in Orioles history, when Texas became the first team in 110 years to score 30 runs, came on the same day the team announced Trembley would be back this season.
Burres didn’t even look at that tape when preparing for his first start of 2008.
“It makes me feel a little better about facing this team,” Burres said afterward.
Jennings, who joined Hall of Famer and new team president Nolan Ryan as the only Texas natives to start a Rangers home opener, struggled to find the strike zone. The homers came after Jennings threw 16 of his first 25 pitches for balls and walked the bases loaded in the first before an inning-ending grounder on which he covered first base—then, in frustration, hurled the ball deep into the stands.
Huff thought he had his third homer of the season after rounding the bases in the sixth. It was initially ruled a homer after Huff’s ball into the right-field corner hit the top of the wall. But after manager Ron Washington questioned the call, the umpires conferred and called it a ground-rule double, allowing two runs to score for a 6-0 lead.
“When I looked at it on tape, the umpires got it right,” acknowledged Huff, who added a two-run single in the eighth to make it 8-1.
Scott, teammates with Jennings in Houston last season, went 2-for-4 and has nine hits his last 14 at-bats.
Jennings, the former first-round pick and 2002 NL Rookie of the Year with Colorado, signed as a free agent after a miserable season (2-9, 6.45 ERA) with the Astros that ended with surgery in August to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. He pitched a team-high 17 innings during spring with a 2.12 ERA, but has allowed eight runs and four homers in two regular season starts.
Pitching for the first time ever at Rangers Ballpark, 29-year-old Dallas native Jennings struck out one and walked four in 4 2-3 innings and retired Baltimore in order only once.
“It’s a day I’ll always remember, a day I was looking forward to,” Jennings said. “But it wasn’t the result I was looking for. … I was amped up at the beginning, and that didn’t help.” ^Notes: Milton Bradley was 2-for-4 in his first home game for Texas, but was easily thrown out trying to score on a pitch in the dirt that only went a few feet behind the catcher. He was originally supposed to play right field, but was switched to designated hitter because of the threat of rain that never came. The Rangers are still being cautious with Bradley recovering from knee surgery. … Texas is 18-19 in home openers, and 6-9 at Rangers Ballpark. … This is Baltimore’s best start since going 7-1 in 1998. … Rangers owner Tom Hicks, who also owns the Liverpool soccer team, followed Liverpool’s game against Arsenal in the European Champions League on television. He was able to catch parts of that game on TVs by his field-level seats and in his owner’s suite upstairs while with clients, friends and long-time season ticket holders at the Rangers game. Hicks watched the start and end of the Rangers game from his seats in the first row.