Rapid Reaction: Rangers 13, Orioles 1
April, 9, 2011
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com
The Rangers still haven’t left the clubhouse with a losing taste in their mouths this season.
After being shut out in the first game of the doubleheader, the Rangers came back strong to blow out Baltimore in the nightcap, meaning Texas is the only one-loss team in the major leagues. The Rangers recorded their seventh win with the unbeatable combination of dominant pitching and explosive offense.
*Matt Harrison had his second consecutive dominant start. Just like his first start of the season, the 25-year-old lefty allowed only one run in seven innings. The Orioles’ only run came on a solo shot by Adam Jones to lead off the bottom of the second inning. Harrison responded by retiring the next 18 batters before handing an eight-run lead to the bullpen. Harrison, who gave up only two hits and one walk, consistently attacked the strike zone with a mid-90s fastball. He recorded only three strikeouts, but the Orioles got good wood on the ball very few times, hitting a lot of lazy fly balls.
*The Rangers’ bats finally arrived in Baltimore in the third inning of the nightcap. After being shut out for the first 11 road innings of the season, the Rangers put up six runs in the frame against Plano East and TCU product Jake Arrieta. The Rangers finally got on the board when, with the bases loaded and one out, Elvis Andrus lined a high 2-2 fastball into right-center for a two-run single. After Andrus stole second, Josh Hamilton drove in two runs with a single to right. Adrian Beltre followed that with his second homer of the season, pulling an 0-2 fastball over the left-center fence for a two-run shot.
*One of the reasons trading for Mike Napoli made sense for the Rangers is because he feasts on left-handed pitching. Well, righties have had a really rough go against Napoli so far this season. Two of his three homers have come against right-handers, including his 424-foot solo shot in the fourth against Arrieta. Napoli, who also singled and scored in the third, is 3-for-6 with two homers against righties as a Ranger.
*We might have witnessed Adrian Beltre busting out of his slump. After an 0-fer in the first game, Beltre was hitting .107. That averaged climb 75 points with a 3-for-5 performance, which was just a triple shy of the cycle. Beltre had the two-run homer in the third and an RBI double in the ninth.
*Ho-hum, Nelson Cruz homered again. He busted out the Boomstick on an 89-mph fastball in the ninth for his fifth homer of the season. That leads the majors. The three-run shot was his first homer of the season with runners on base. His 10 RBIs are tied for the most in the majors.
*Andrus, who had only 35 RBIs as a leadoff hitter last season, entered the season with the goal of being a better run producer as a No. 2 hitter. So far, so good. Andrus has seven RBIs, one per game that he’s played.
* The bottom of the eighth was a scoreless roller coaster, courtesy of rookie reliever Pedro Strop. He needed the minimum six pitches to strike out the first two batters he faced. He followed that up by allowing a single and two walks -- with a couple of balks mixed in -- to load the bases. He got out of the jam by striking out Derrek Lee with a nasty slider well off the plate. After the first walk, manager Ron Washington went to the mound to give the hard-throwing righty a pep talk. That was a valuable teaching moment for a young pitcher with potential to play a key role in the back of the Rangers’ bullpen.