By Mark Miller
Now that’s more like it.
After a long streak of inconsistency, the Texas Rangers’ offense finally put together a string of big performances last week, which helped them win five of seven games.
Not only did the Rangers score at least five runs on six occasions, they managed eight or more in four straight wins. That allowed them to move back ahead of the New York Yankees for the best record in the American League and kept them 5.5 games ahead of the Oakland A’s in the A.L. West division.
“We’re killing it good,” shortstop Elvis Andrus told mlb.com after Saturday’s 9-3 win over the Minnesota Twins. “We’re energized. Everybody is having good at-bats. We didn’t have a good July, but August is the month that we woke up. We’ve got to go out and keep playing the way we have been playing.”
Leading the offense was Adrian Beltre. On Thursday against the Twins, the All-Star third baseman hit home runs in his first three at-bats. Then the next night, he hit for the cycle. Additionally, outfielder Josh Hamilton drove in four runs Sunday including his 35th home run, the first Ranger since 2005 with that many. And in the same game Nelson Cruz hit his 20th HR, the fifth straight year he’s done that.
“It was a matter of time,” said Manager Ron Washington. “What’s happening is up and down our lineup, nine guys are doing the job. That’s what we’re doing right now. Our lineup is starting to come together. It’s the right time to be in the position we’re in. We’re hitting on all cylinders right now.”
Offense wasn’t the only reason for last week’s Texas success. The Rangers yielded three or less runs in four games winning them all. Included was a two-hit, eight-inning performance against Minnesota by Matt Harrison. Yielding his first hit in the seventh inning, Harrison upped his record to 15-7 and lowered his earned run average to 3.04.
Also shining on the mound was Ryan Dempster who beat both Baltimore and Minnesota giving up just four runs for the week.
“It seems like these guys are putting up five runs in an inning almost every day,” Dempster said. “It’s pretty fun. I know they’ve always done a pretty good job offensively, but you still have to execute your game plan, whether you get one run or 10 runs. You still have to go out and execute pitches.”
Indians, Royals on road ahead
Following their final August home game Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Rangers begin a 10-game road trip Friday in Cleveland. Then they go to Kansas City for four games against the Royals.
The Indians entered the week with a 5-19 record in August. Their 55-72 record is 15 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the A.L. Central division. Cleveland won two of three games in Ohio in May in the only meeting against Texas this year.
Center fielder Esequiel Carrera has been the hottest Cleveland hitter in August with a .295 average. Catcher Carlos Santana has four home runs and 15 runs batted in. Justin Masterson has three of the team’s August wins.
Since meeting in Missouri earlier this month, the Royals have an 11-8 record to stand at 56-70 through Sunday, 16.5 games behind Chicago. Kansas City has won three of the five games so far with the Rangers in 2012 though Texas won two of three on the road.
First baseman Billy Butler has led the Royals in August with five HRs, 17 RBI and a .298 batting average. Greg Holland, taking over for the traded Jonathan Broxton, has won twice and saved all seven of his chances with a 0.73 earned run average.
8/29 Rays 6:05 p.m.
8/31 @Indians 6:05 p.m.
9/1 @Indians 6:05 p.m.
9/2 @Indians 12:05 p.m.
9/3 @Royals 1:10 p.m.
9/4 @Royals 7:05 p.m.