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07/10/10 11:52 PM ET
Lee goes distance, but O's spoil debut
By Chris Cox / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Cliff Lee's debut as a Ranger didn't quite go as the club may have hoped. Lee gave up six runs in a complete-game loss -- including three home runs -- as the Orioles beat the Rangers, 6-1, on Saturday at the Ballpark in Arlington. "I would have liked to come in and done a better job right off the bat, but it is what it is," Lee said. "It's a done deal now. All I can do is come in and prepare for the next time. Hopefully the results are better." And while Lee made his debut to over 41,000 fans -- including a ballpark record 14,000 walkups -- it was Chris Tillman of the Orioles who grabbed the spotlight. Tillman, who had just been recalled by the O's from Triple-A Norfolk, didn't give up his first hit of the night until the Ian Kinsler's one-out single to left in the seventh inning. "I'm not trying to take anything away from what that kid did over there," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He kept us off the scoreboard. But in my own opinion, I think we've faced better guys." It matched the longest span of hitless baseball against the Rangers this season, as Texas didn't get its first hit on Opening Day until 6 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays. "He threw the ball well," third baseman Michael Young said. "It doesn't really happen to us very often where we get shut down like that offensively." It took until the eighth for the Rangers to finally get on the scoreboard. David Murphy led off with the single but advanced to third on center fielder Adam Jones' error. Murphy then came around to score on Tillman's wild pitch. Tillman went 7 1/3 innings while giving up just one run on two hits with three strikeouts and one walk. But Washington insisted his club should have done better against Tillman, who entered the game with an 0-3 record and an ERA over eight. "I just felt like we should have gotten that guy, Tillman, that threw us," Washington said. "I don't want to take anything away from his performance, because if he was one of our young kids we'd be raving. But I just didn't think he had all that stuff." Lee got off to an inauspicious start just two pitches into his first start as a Ranger in Arlington. Corey Patterson doubled on the first pitch of the game to right field and came around to score a pitch later on Miguel Tejada's single. "I wish I could have kept it 0-0 for a little while and let our offense get going," Lee said. "They came out swinging. The first two pitches they had a run. You've got to tip your hat to them for their approach. "They were aggressive, knowing that I'd throw strikes. It worked for them tonight. Usually that will work in my favor, but tonight it worked in their favor." And after Lee recorded nine consecutive outs -- with the only baserunner reaching on a fielder's choice after Tejada's single -- Nick Markakis blasted a leadoff homer into right field in the fourth inning to push the Orioles' lead to two runs. Cesar Izturis added a solo shot an inning later -- his first of the season -- before Jones pushed the lead to five with a two-run shot to center field. "Two of the three homers were balls up. I've got to get those balls down," Lee said. "The homer by Jones was a decent pitch, it was down, but it got quite a bit of plate. I think they had a good game plan and a good approach, and it worked for them tonight." Jones was also pleased with his club's approach, but was equally impressed with Lee's start. "Most hitters are comfortable off of Lee. He's not a guy who causes any fears in a hitter," Jones said. "You know what you're going to get, and he's around the plate. Our mindset was just go up there and get a good pitch and not miss it. "I kept looking up there and he had 70 pitches and it's the eighth inning. That's unheard of, especially when you give up a few runs. We went up there and swung the bats against him. He battled, he dealt, he still threw a very good game." But the Rangers were still able to find positives in the loss. It took Lee just 95 pitches to throw a complete game and he didn't walk a batter. And thankfully for the Rangers, who will try and avoid a four-game sweep by the Orioles on Sunday, they didn't lose any ground in the AL West thanks to the A's dismantling of the Angels. "[He was] pounding the strike zone, throwing to contact," Washington said. "They caught a couple, but that performance right there, without the runs on the board, I'll take it every day. He's going to be fine." Added Young: "He showed exactly what he's capable of giving us. I'm pretty sure we're going to give him a little more than four hits or whatever we got. I think we're all excited about what we have." Despite that, Lee still has higher expectations for himself in the second half of the season. "I've just got to focus on what I do and my routine," Lee said. "Focus on that and I think everything is going to be fine."
Chris Cox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.