No matter how much outfielder Anthony Santander and manager Brandon Hyde wanted to brush Thursday’s series opener against the Texas Rangers aside as just another other game, the memory lingered, locked away, suppressed to avoid a whole new wave of disappointment.

The last time the Rangers were here, Camden Yards was left stunned. Texas rolled through Baltimore, sweeping the Orioles in the American League Division Series. After a 101-win regular season, the Orioles were done while the Rangers went on to win the World Series.

But, before Thursday’s game, Santander and Hyde tried their best to avoid being sucked into that narrative. Santander said it “doesn’t matter. It’s another series, another team,” but he relented later to admit “that was painful, but that was in the past. It’s another year.”

Hyde, too, said he didn’t bring anything up with his players — although they wouldn’t have needed reminding. The manager emphasized that this is only June, not October. But to see the Rangers again, for the first time since that postseason heartbreak?

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“Those three losses stayed with us for a while,” Hyde admitted.

Maybe there was no added motivation headed into what became a convincing 11-2 win against the Rangers on Pride Night. The Orioles won’t readily admit it. But, at the very least, behind a dominant start from Corbin Burnes and with a lineup that crushed Rangers right-hander Jon Gray, the Orioles got one over a team that will still have the last laugh for quite some time.

Orioles pitcher Corbin Burnes allowed one run on nine hits while striking out five in seven innings. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

A regular-season win doesn’t wash away the hurt that lingers in the minds of the Orioles, expressed only when pressed long enough. But it’s a start — a building block as Baltimore aims to reach October once more, when it will search for a different outcome.

Between then and now is a potentially pivotal trade deadline, when the Orioles will seek additional pitching after losing three starters to season-ending elbow injuries. There are multiple series remaining against American League East opponents. There is the luck that comes from winner-take-all series in autumn.

But at the halfway point — Thursday was Game 81 — the Orioles are in a good spot. The win brought them even with the New York Yankees atop the AL East, and it showed the power potential of a lineup that went yard four times. With those long balls from Heston Kjerstad, Cedric Mullins, Adley Rutschman and Colton Cowser, Baltimore has clubbed a franchise-record 57 home runs in June.

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They also emphatically pushed a five-game losing streak further out of the mind. Baltimore broke the skid with Grayson Rodriguez’s seven-inning start Wednesday, and an all-around performance Thursday showed plenty about this team’s makeup.

“Those are the times you kind of learn who you are as a team, when you face that adversity,” Burnes said. “What are we going to do? Are we going to roll over and let this fester and last for two, three weeks, into a month? Or are we going to snap out of it, play good baseball and snap out of it? Last two days, we’ve played good baseball, and I think there’s no reason why we can’t keep playing good baseball.”

Kjerstad’s two-run blast was his first of the season. The outfield prospect, called up this week, has immediately produced in his return to the majors. Kjerstad has started three of his four games here and has produced four hits and three RBIs, with a run-scoring single in the first to go with his third-inning bomb.

“Definitely have had a couple good games,” Kjerstad said. “Just want to stay where I’m at, keep it rolling, you know? A couple games in the grand scheme of things is a small amount of ABs, so what I’m feeling right now I hope to build upon it every time I get an opportunity to be in the lineup.”

Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins had three hits, a home run and two RBIs Wednesday in an 11-2 win over the Texas Rangers. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Mullins also continued his surge when he homered to right for the second straight night as part of a three-hit game. After beginning the season slowly — he was hitting .174 on June 11 — Mullins looks more like the dynamic center fielder of recent season.

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In his last 14 games, Mullins is hitting .408. It’s a turnaround that gives credence to Hyde’s insistence to have Mullins play through his slump.

Mullins’ two-run shot helped spell the end of Gray’s night after five innings and eight runs, but the offense continued from there. Rutschman homered, Cowser homered and then Rutschman added a sacrifice fly. It was more than enough offense to support Burnes, who continued to impress since arriving in an offseason trade.

When the Orioles reach October this year, having Burnes atop the rotation gives them a different element. He has produced a quality start in 11 of his last 12 appearances, and he has allowed one run or fewer in nine of his 17 outings this year.

“Years past, I was always trying to chase the strikeout and get those big swing and misses, and it led to a lot of shorter outings, in the five- to six-inning range,” Burnes said. “So, this year, being in this division with some bigger bats, some guys like to be aggressive and swing, we knew that we could go out and minimize contact and keep the pitch count down and get a lot of innings in.”

Still, Burnes forced 19 swings and misses — something he wasn’t focused on against an aggressive lineup. But he was economical anyway in his pitch count, finishing at 88. He might’ve worked deeper in another circumstance, but the game was already far out of Texas’ reach.

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The outburst of offense finished at 11 runs — in one game, the Orioles matched the total number they scored throughout a three-game sweep by the Rangers in the ALDS. It won’t change that hurt, but it could be part of what comes next.

“We didn’t really talk about it, but it’s kind of burned in our memories from last year,” Ryan O’Hearn said. “It’s something we definitely don’t want to happen again. It’s June, so we’ve got a long way to go, and hopefully we’ll get to where we want to be in October and then we’ll take it from there.”