By Mark Miller
Face it Texas Rangers’ fans, some of you thought the team would never make it back to the .500 record, hardly anyone figured they could score 12 runs two games in a row and probably nobody believed they could do so against the Detroit Tigers. But that’s exactly what happened.
Thanks to the Rangers winning three of four in the Motor City, they had a winning record for the first time in a month and enter this week with a 25-25 record and new hope after a period of intense fogginess. They did so by scoring 35 runs on 57 hits (20 for extra bases) in the series for a .363 batting average and .561 slugging percentage. They even handed Justin Verlander one of the worst defeats of his career Sunday.
“It was huge for us,” first baseman Mitch Moreland told MLB.com after Sunday’s 12-4 victory which followed a 12-2 triumph Saturday. “After what we have been through the last week and a half, to come in here and play well against a good team like Detroit, swing the bats well and pitch well, hopefully it will carry over for the rest of the road trip.”
After losing the week’s opening game 6-2 at home to the Seattle Mariners, the Rangers won four of their next five. Among the biggest reasons was the return to form of third baseman Adrian Beltre with 12 hits in 23 at-bats for a .522 average including two home runs and six runs batted in. Rookie Rougned Odor hit .467 with five RBI, Alex Rios .429 with six RBI and Mitch Moreland .292 with six RBI.
On the mound, rookie Nick Martinez earned his first Major League win by yielding just one run in six innings at Detroit. Nick Tepesch picked up his first victory of 2014 in the finale with Seattle while Yu Darvish and Colby Lewis collected wins against the Tigers. But it was hitting that clearly was the star this week when the team won four day games and lost two night contests.
“It’s about being consistent,” said manager Ron Washington said. “If we continue to have good at-bats, good things are going to happen. We’re happy with the results, but it’s all about being consistent. We wanted to come in here and continue to play good baseball, and we did just that.”
“We were aggressive,” Rios said. “The one thing we have been looking for is being aggressive at the plate and take advantage of hitters counts and we did that well this weekend.”
Longest Road Trip Concludes
Shortly after concluding their success in Detroit, the Rangers headed to Minnesota where they open a four-game series with the Twins on Monday. Then it’s on to the Nation’s Capital for three games with the Washington Nationals to complete the season’s longest road trip.
The Twins enter the week with a 23-24 record after losing three games at the San Francisco Giants over the weekend. Leading Minnesota on offense has been shortstop Eduardo Escobar with a .337 average, the only regular over .300. Second baseman Brian Dozier has the most homers with 11 and catcher Kurt Suzuki the most RBI with 27. Former star catcher Joe Mauer is now at first base and hitting .285 with two HRs and 14 RBI.
On the mound, former New York Yankee Phil Hughes has a 5-1 record and 3.15 earned run average. Closer Glen Perkins has 14 saves in 16 attempts.
Washington started the week with the same record as the Rangers after winning the finale at Pittsburgh. First baseman Adam LaRoche leads the Nationals with a .316 average that includes five homers and 21 RBI. Shortstop Ian Desmond leads the team in homers with nine and RBI with 29.
The Nationals’ strength on the mound is in the bullpen led by closer Rafael Soriano with 11 saves in 12 tries and a 0.90 ERA and Tyler Clippard who leads the team in wins with four plus has a 1.61 ERA. The best starters have been Tanner Roark and Steven Strasburg with three wins each and identical 3.42 ERAs.
This marks the first time the Rangers have played Washington since 2008 when they won two of three games. They are 4-5 all-time against the Nationals.
5/26 @Twins 1:10 p.m.
5/27 @Twins 7:10 p.m.
5/28 @Twins 7:10 p.m.
5/29 @Twins 12:10 p.m.
5/30 @Nationals 6:05 p.m.
5/31 @Nationals 11:05 a.m.
6/1 @Nationals 12:35 p.m.