Right-hander Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers, who faces Baltimore righty Jake Arrieta, has had to make adjustments in his first full season as a starter, having begun his career with the two-time defending American League champions as a closer.
In his last outing, Feliz gave up four earned runs in five innings and walked six batters, a career-high total. Opponents are batting only .188 (16-for-85) against him in four starts, however, and Feliz has given up only four extra-base hits.
"It's growing," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Feliz, who's 24 years old. "He's got to grow. He'll grow into it. The main thing is he just couldn't get the ball down. He elevated it.
"He needs command of his fastball. ... That's what got him in trouble in Toronto. If he commands his fastball, there are not many people who are going to hit Neftali."
As for Arrieta, expectations are getting elevated with each start as the righty continues to show he's emerging as a potential staff ace on a team that entered Tuesday with a 19-10 record and locked in a tie for the AL East lead with the Tampa Bay Rays.
All Arrieta did in his last outing was go to Yankee Stadium and blank New York across a career-high eight innings. He did not allow a Bronx Bomber to reach second base.
Arrieta put the brakes on a personal two-game skid by tying a career high with nine strikeouts and not walking a batter for the first time in his six starts.
It was what has become a typical performance for a young staff that is defying the odds and helping the Orioles ascend in the tough AL East.
"The energy is starting pitching and the team you are playing," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "I think our guys have a grip on reality. Where we've been, I think we've played, what, like 28 [games]?
"We've gotten through one-sixth of the season. Guys get the length of the season. This is a mature group. When you get your nose bloodied a lot, you get a feel for the reality of this competition. So I'm real proud of the way they've handled some of the attention that they've gotten. I'm also proud that they've gotten [some attention.]"
Rangers: Koji in control
Reliever Koji Uehara has gone a Rangers club-record 27 consecutive appearances without issuing a walk since his only free pass as a member of the Rangers on Aug. 6, 2011, against Cleveland. That is the longest string of consecutive games without a walk for a big league pitcher since Uehara's 36-game streak with the O's from July 19, 2010-April 15, 2011. Uehara has not allowed a walk in his last 23 2/3 innings and has retired his last 16 batters over six appearances.
Mitch Moreland will be at first base for Texas on Tuesday. He was used at designated hitter on Sunday because of soreness in his foot and did not start on Monday with a left-hander on the mound.
Adrian Beltre may return to third base on Tuesday. He was at DH on Monday after being out of the lineup for five straight games with a tight left hamstring. He pinch-hit three times in those five games.
Orioles: Jones' streak broken
Center fielder Adam Jones didn't reach base on Monday night, snapping a season-high on-base streak at 14 games. He's still got a .283 average (15-for-53) in his last 15 games and has a hit in 24 of 29 games overall this season.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy hit two home runs on Sunday, and his first long ball of the game came in the first inning. He has now hit 10 of his 36 round-trippers with the Orioles in the game's opening inning (27.8 percent).
Catcher Matt Wieters hit his seventh homer on May 2 (25th game) after not hitting his seventh of 2011 until June 25 (75th game). Wieters' next home run will be the 50th of his career.
The Rangers announced that all reserved seats have been sold for the upcoming home series against the Angels. There is a limited number of obstructed-view tickets, and there are more than 2,000 standing-room tickets available for each of the three games. Standing room can be purchased online, by phone and at the box office.
The Orioles are 9-3 in games decided by two or fewer runs and have won eight straight games decided in the seventh inning or later after dropping the first two of the year.