Kirkman keeps his cool until after debut
Left-hander savors three strikeouts in first big league inning
BALTIMORE -- The first pitch of his Major League career, which was supposed to be down and away, sailed up and in. So did the second. After that, Rangers lefty Michael Kirkman settled down and retired all four hitters he faced, striking out the side in his first inning Saturday against the Orioles.
A day later, he was still savoring his successful debut -- and trying to catch up with all the well-wishers.
"Twenty text messages and 30 things on Facebook," he said. "It was crazy; I didn't have time to check them all. It was cool."
Kirkman, who was going to work the eighth inning in Saturday's game, was called in as an injury replacement for left-hander Scott Feldman, who experienced soreness in his right knee while warming up for the seventh inning. Because of the situation, Kirkman didn't have enough time to let adrenaline overtake him.
"I think that really did help. ... I might have thrown eight pitches off the mound [in the bullpen] and that was just trying to get loose," Kirkman said. "[Bullpen coach Andy Hawkins] turns around and says, 'All right, bud, we've got an injury out there -- you can go warm up on the field, and you've got all the time you need.' That's when it hit; that's when the heart started pumping. I tried to collect myself when I got to the infield."
Mission accomplished. After throwing two balls to Ty Wigginton, Kirkman got the Baltimore cleanup hitter swinging. He caught Luke Scott looking at a third strike before completing his first Major League inning by fanning Adam Jones swinging. In the eighth, Kirkman got Felix Pie to pop out to short in a lefty-on-lefty battle before he was relieved by Frank Francisco.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Kirkland is the first rookie to strike out the first three batters he faced in his debut since Tampa Bay's Wade Davis, who fanned the first four hitters he faced on Sept. 6, 2009, against Detroit. Davis and Kirkman are the only pitchers to strike out as many as the first three batters they faced in their debut since Texas' Neftali Feliz fanned his first four hitters Aug. 3, 2009, at Oakland.
The successful first outing impressed Rangers manager Ron Washington, who said Kirkman, a converted starting pitcher, lived up to his billing as being tough on left-handed hitters.
"I thought for the first time out, he showed great composure with his emotions. He pounded the strike zone. ... Those couple of lefties he got out [Scott and Pie] are pretty good lefties," Washington said.
Feldman reported that his knee was feeling better Sunday. He is scheduled to undergo a MRI test Monday in Arlington. With Feldman down, the Rangers will be an arm short in the bullpen Sunday for the finale of a four-game series at Camden Yards.
"We've got enough bullpen to get through today," Washington said.
Looking back, 30-run game was a surprise
BALTIMORE -- Sunday marked the third anniversary of the Rangers' 30-3 shellacking of the Orioles in the first game of a doubleheader. That 2007 game set a slew of records, even if Texas manager Ron Washington, then a rookie skipper, never saw the onslaught coming.
"I remember that morning, giving that lineup to [then-bench coach] Art Howe and saying, 'This is the kind of lineup that'll get you fired,'" Washington said with a laugh. "Then they went out there and put up  runs."
With then-shortstop Michael Young playing on a bum ankle, the Rangers rushed infielder Travis Metcalf from Triple-A Oklahoma. Metcalf arrived at Camden Yards and got in the game as a defensive replacement, with the Rangers ahead 14-3 in the bottom of the seventh, taking over a third base as Ramon Vazquez moved over to replace Young at short. In his first at-bat, Metcalf hit a grand slam as part of a 10-run eighth.
Vazquez and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia each homered twice, drove in seven runs and accumulated 10 total bases. Marlon Byrd also hit a grand slam. Starter Kason Gabbard went the first six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, picking up the win when the offense erased a 3-0 Orioles lead. Wes Littleton picked up a save in the lopsided affair by working the final three innings.
"That was some kind of night. ... I'd like to go put 30 up today," Washington said.
Guzman starts running to test strained quad
BALTIMORE -- Infielder Cristian Guzman, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quadriceps muscle, took part in running drills Saturday. Manager Ron Washington isn't sure, however, whether Guzman will activated from the DL when he is eligible Aug. 29.
"He started running yesterday, so we'll just see how he progresses and take it from there," Washington said. "It's hard for me to say, because I don't know what his progress is going to be."
The switch-hitter was 3-for-34 (.088) since being acquired from the Washington Nationals on July 31 in exchange for Minor League right-handers Tanner Roark and Ryan Tatusko.
If Guzman is healthy, the Rangers could activate him Aug. 29, or wait a few days and bring him back when rosters expand Sept. 1. A Minor League rehabilitation assignment is probable, Washington said.
"We've got to get him on the bases first," Washington said. "Once we get him on the bases and make sure everything is well in that respect, then we've certainly got to get him out and get him playing."
Closer Neftali Feliz, at 22 years and 109 days, became the youngest player in Major League history to record 30 saves in a season when he picked up his 30th on Friday night. He surpassed the previous record of Oakland's Huston Street, who was 23 years and 36 days when he got his 30th save on Sept. 8, 2006. ... Fewer than 50 reserved seats remain for Saturday's A's-Rangers game at Rangers Ballpark. Standing room tickets will be put on sale when all reserved seats are sold. ... The Rangers entered Sunday's game with a 3-6 record against Baltimore, guaranteeing Texas its first losing season series to the Orioles since 2004. ... Right-hander Dustin Nippert, on the 15-day disabled list since July 20 with a head contusion, threw two innings of batting practice Sunday at the Rangers' Minor League complex in Surprise, Ariz., as he continues to work toward a rehabilitation assignment.
Pete Kerzel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.