Small ball, long ball, whatever type of baseball it takes to win, the Texas Rangers seem to know all about it.
In their only win at Seattle last Tuesday, they managed just four hits but still beat the Mariners 3-1. Then back home against the Toronto Blue Jays, their potent offense cranked into high gear with 10 home runs and 36 runs in a three-game sweep.
The 4-2 week left Texas at 30-18, best in the American League and 6.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the AL West Division. It also helped them to their first three-game winning streak since late April and first three-game series sweep since mid-April.
“We have no weakness in this lineup,” said first baseman Mitch Moreland after Saturday’s walkoff 8-7 victory in 13 innings against Toronto. “Top to bottom we try to hit the ball hard. When our offense is clicking on all cylinders it’s hard to beat us.”
Toronto found that out early in the Friday and Sunday games and late on Saturday. The Rangers scored six runs in the first inning of the 14-3 series opener and seven runs in the second inning of the 12-6 finale. In between, it took back-to-back-to-back homers in the sixth inning and Josh Hamilton’s two-run blast in the 13th that finally put the Blue Jays away 8-7.
“That’s what we’re all about – fight,” said Manager Ron Washington on Saturday. “Everyone had to dig down deep and do what they had to do.”
The Rangers rallied from a 4-2 deficit with consecutive homers by Nelson Cruz, Yorvit Torrealba and Moreland in the sixth inning, only the seventh time that had been done in club history.
“The character of the guys in that clubhouse showed up by playing as many innings as they had to play. I’m not surprised because that’s how we play baseball.”
One night earlier, Cruz matched Hamilton’s eight runs batted in from earlier in the month while one day later, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler and Mike Napoli sparked the victory with two-run homers. Yu Darvish became the league’s first seven-game winner in the finale.
California trip lies ahead
After the Rangers wrap up their six-game homestand Wednesday night against the Seattle Mariners, they begin their first visit to California this season. They start with seven games at American League West division foes, three at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim followed by four at the Oakland A’s.
Texas beat the Angels in two of three games while splitting two games with Oakland earlier this month at home. Darvish won once in each series and the Rangers scored at least 10 runs in both wins against the Angels.
The Angels and A’s have been battling for position behind the Rangers all season. Entering this week, it was the Angels in second place, 1.5 games ahead of the A’s.
Lack of offense has hurt both teams as Oakland was last in the major leagues with a .209 batting average through Sunday and the Angels were at .247.
Pitching on the other hand has been strong for both teams as the Angels rank directly behind the Rangers (3.29) in the American League with a 3.42 earned run average while the A’s are close behind at 3.57.