Rookie starters to duel as Rangers battle Orioles

MLB

Texas Rangers right-hander Glenn Otto and Baltimore Orioles left-hander Zac Lowther have plenty in common heading into their head-to-head matchup Thursday night.

Not only were the 25-year-olds selected in the early rounds of the 2017 draft, but both will be making their fifth major league start in search of their first victory when they take the mound in the opener of the four-game series in Baltimore.

Otto (0-2, 9.37 ERA) had a solid debut on Aug. 27, throwing five shutout innings against the Houston Astros, but he hasn’t built on that success, instead taking a major step back in his past two outings.

Otto gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings of a 10-5 road loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sept. 10. Then he faced Houston again at home on Sept. 16 and didn’t come close to replicating his previous performance against the Astros, getting tagged for seven runs in 3 1/3 innings of a 12-1 loss.

“You’re going to go through it,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “You can ask every pitcher, no matter how good they were. You’re going to have to figure out a way, especially in a game like (Thursday) against a really good (Astros) lineup.”

All seven runs Otto allowed in his latest start came in the fourth inning. He walked four in the game, three in the key frame.

“I wasn’t quite getting ahead of as many guys tonight from the get-go,” Otto said postgame. “I was able to fight through during those first three innings. And in that fourth inning, it showed a little bit more, obviously, with the walks and leaving some balls over the middle of the plate.”

Woodward is confident Otto will turn the page against the Orioles (48-104), who are tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the worst record in the majors.

Baltimore gave the contending Philadelphia Phillies plenty to handle the past three days, however.

The Orioles blanked the Phillies 2-0 on Monday and then sent them to 10 innings before losing 3-2 on Tuesday. Baltimore battled Philadelphia again on Wednesday night before ultimately falling 4-3.

Lowther (0-2, 9.61 ERA) has made eight appearances for the Orioles this season, including four starts.

Just like Otto in his most recent outing, Lowther also went 3 1/3 innings in his latest start, Saturday at Boston, and similarly had one bad inning. Lowher’s came in the first, when he gave up three runs in a 9-3 loss to the Red Sox.

“Trying to roll with the punches,” Lowther said. “My stuff’s not really where I want it to be. Really continuing to battle through some of the command issues that I’ve been having, but being able to go out there and battle against a team like the Red Sox, it’s tough and you have to take it head on.”

The Rangers (55-97) aren’t the Red Sox, as they have lost four in a row and seven of their past eight.

Texas fell 7-3 on Wednesday against the New York Yankees to finish 4-9 in a 13-game stretch against the A’s, Astros, Chicago White Sox and Yankees, four of the top eight teams in the AL.

–Field Level Media

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