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Rangers look to hold down Orioles again in Game 2

BALTIMORE — The Texas Rangers will look to take a stranglehold on their American League Divisional Series when they meet the Baltimore Orioles for Game 2 on Sunday.

Texas won the opener of the best-of-five series 3-2 over top-seeded Baltimore on Saturday for their third straight win in the postseason, all of them away from home.

“It’s always nice to play well on the road,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “And we knew we had to do this going to Tampa and coming here facing a really tough ball club. Got work to do, but guys just responded so well after that series (last weekend) in Seattle.”

Texas sends out left-hander Jordan Montgomery (1-0, 0.00 ERA postseason) against rookie right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (7-4, 4.35 regular season) in Game 2 on Sunday.

Montgomery, acquired at the trade deadline from the last-place St. Louis Cardinals, went 2-0 with a 0.67 ERA over his final four starts, allowing one run or less in each for a team fighting for a playoff spot.

The seven-year veteran opened the playoffs for the Rangers on Tuesday and threw seven shutout innings against Tampa Bay. He gave up six hits, struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.

Montgomery is 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA in 16 career starts against the Orioles.

The Rangers opted to leave veteran right-hander Max Scherzer off the ALDS roster. Scherzer (strained teres major muscle in his right shoulder) threw a two-inning simulated game on Friday. Bochy said he could be added to the roster if there is an injury.

Rodriguez’s season was a tale of two parts. After going 2-2 with a 7.35 ERA over his first 10 starts, he was sent down to Triple-A Norfolk, where he worked on his fastball command. After his return in mid-July, he went 5-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 13 starts and earned the Game 2 assignment.

“He’s been a completely different pitcher since he came back up,” teammate Austin Hays said Saturday. “You can see the hunger in his eyes. There’s no fear, a ton of confidence in every one of his pitches.”

Rodriguez made his major league debut against the Rangers on April 5, allowing two runs on four hits in five innings of a no-decision.

In Game 1, the Rangers got a homer from Josh Jung and double and two walks from fellow rookie Evan Carter as six pitchers combined on a five-hitter.

Carter has reached base in 10 of 12 plate appearances in the postseason. Moved up to No. 5 in the batting order, he doubled home the first run Saturday.

“Hitting doesn’t change for me,” Carter said. “But the only thing I guess the mindset was, my change, was situationally, there might be more runners on base in front of me, you might be more in an RBI situation. So that showed up for me today and that was pretty cool.”

Anthony Santander homered, singled and walked for the Orioles, scoring both of their runs.

Gunnar Henderson singled leading off the ninth but was thrown out trying to steal second and now the Orioles look to avoid traveling to Texas down 2-0.

“We respond fine,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “In the last week or so of the regular season, we had a tough time scoring early. And it takes a lot of pressure off the people on the mound if we get a few runs across early in the game.”

–Harvey Valentine, Field Level Media

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