ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Josh Jung hit a tiebreaking two-run homer soon after Jacob deGrom threw his final pitch of the game, giving the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner his first victory in the American League as the Texas Rangers beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 on Wednesday.
DeGrom (1-0) retired the first 12 batters he faced and finished with 11 strikeouts, but the game was tied 2-2 after he ended the sixth with back-to-back Ks. The right-hander, who in free agency signed a $185 million, five-year contract after his first nine big league seasons with the New York Mets, got a no-decision in the season opener.
“I wanted to be back out there, and I’m pleased with the performance,” deGrom said.
“He was great, wasn’t he? I mean, it’s good to get him a win, too,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That was Jacob really on top of his game. ... I was looking forward to seeing him back out there just like all of us."
Jung's second homer this season came in the bottom of the sixth off Austin Voth (0-1), who had taken over in relief after top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez went five innings in his big-league debut without a decision against an ace.
José Leclerc worked a perfect ninth for his first save and extended the scoreless streak for Rangers relievers to 21 1/3 innings.
Texas avoided a series sweep and ended its eight-game skid against the Orioles, who were 6-0 against the Rangers last year.
After striking out Baltimore’s 1-3 batters on 10 pitches in the fourth, deGrom needed 25 pitches to get out of the fifth. That included Ryan Mountcastle's leadoff double to deep center, a four-pitch walk and second baseman Marcus Semien's fielding error before Adam Frazier's game-tying RBI single tied the game.
“The fifth inning there, there’s room for improvement. I've got to throw the ball better out of the stretch,” deGrom said. “You know, I’m pleased with how I threw the ball. But those are big spots where I’ve got to make pitches."
In his Rangers debut last Thursday, deGrom struck out seven, but allowed five runs on six extra-base hits over 3 2/3 innings. He limited Baltimore to two hits, and walked two while throwing 58 of 92 pitches for strikes.
Rodriguez settled down after needing 30 pitches to get through the first inning, when he allowed back-to-back RBI hits to Adolis García and Jung as Texas took a 2-0 lead. The right-hander retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced, and struck out All-Star shortstop Corey Seager twice.
“It was just nerves, honestly, that first inning,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “But from the second inning on, the fastball command was a lot better and he wasn’t yanking his slider as much. Just really did a nice job of keeping guys off balance and attacking the strike zone.”
The Orioles called up the 23-year-old Rodriguez after Kyle Gibson, their scheduled starter for the finale, was moved up a day to pitch Tuesday in place of Tyler Wells, who ended up having to pitch in long relief Monday.
Rodriguez was the 11th overall pick by the Orioles in the 2018 draft out of Central Heights High School in Nacogdoches, Texas, which is about 175 miles from Globe Life Field. He threw 53 of 83 pitches for strikes and walked only one batter.
“A lot of nerves that first inning, really couldn’t feel the baseball,” he said. “The first inning, I kind of felt like I was on an island, but yeah, the second inning was pretty normal.”
Orioles: RHP Kyle Bradish, the starter who exited Monday's game with a bruised right foot after being struck by a liner in the second inning of the series opener, was put on the 15-day injured list. Hyde said the expectation is that he will "come off the IL on time.”
Orioles will play their home opener Friday against the New York Yankees. The game had been scheduled for Thursday, but was pushed back a day due to the forecast of severe inclement weather.
Rangers are off Thursday before their first road game of the season, Friday at the Chicago Cubs.
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