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Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Seattle 0

7/15/2011

SEATTLE -- The Rangers started the second half much as they ended it, with a solid overall game. They got phenomenal pitching from Derek Holland, homers from Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli, aggressive baserunning and good all-around defense. The result: a 5-0 win over the Mariners.

* Holland came out and looked confident, needing just 13 pitches (10 strikes) to get through a perfect first that included a strikeout. Some early runs from his offense didn't hurt. He just used that first inning as a springboard, pitching with good rhythm. He threw all of his pitches for strikes, didn't hesitate to attack a Seattle lineup that has struggled and put together his second straight complete-game shutout. He gave up just five hits and struck out eight while walking one.

* Holland is the first Ranger with consecutive shutouts since Charlie Hough had a club-record three straight from Aug. 28-Sept. 7, 1983. ...The only other lefty with back-to-back shutouts for Texas was Jim Umbarger on May 23 and 28, 1976. ...Only pitcher in baseball with consecutive complete-game shutouts in 2010 and 2011: Cliff Lee. ...The last AL pitcher to do it was Toronto's Roy Halladay on Sept. 25 and 30, 2009.

* In his last two outings, Holland hasn't allowed a run and has given up nine hits. Yes, it was to Oakland and Seattle, but the way Holland was pitching Thursday, he'd have beaten any team in the league.

* Holland had a perfect game through five innings, but gave up a walk to Franklin Gutierrez to lead off the sixth and then a hit to Chone Figgins, who was batting .183 coming into the game.

* But perhaps Holland's biggest inning of the game was the sixth. After knowing his chance at history was gone, he was able to bear down and get Greg Halman, Suzuki and Brendan Ryan to keep the Mariners off the scoreboard.

* Texas had double-digit hits for the 45th time in 2011, most in the majors.

* Josh Hamilton hit a solo home run with two outs in the first inning. It was his 12th homer of the season and the fifth against a left-handed pitcher. The long-ball allowed Derek Holland to take the mound with a 1-0 lead. It was also only the third homer Jason Vargas has allowed to a left-handed hitter in 2011. The homer gave Hamilton his 50th RBI of the season.

* Yorvit Torrealba, who had some defensive issues in the first half, started his second half with a nice defensive gem. He barehanded a chopper from Ichiro Suzuki out in front of the plate and fired to first to retire the speedy Suzuki.

* Nelson Cruz hit his 21st homer of the season, an opposite-field ball that barely cleared the fence. Suzuki appeared to jump too late and couldn't catch it. I asked manager Ron Washington before the game which players he thought would benefit from the break the most and he immediately said Cruz. He came into the second half leading the team in homers and third in RBIs.

* Things you don't see often: A Mike Napoli stolen base. He swiped second base (and his second stolen base) with one out in the second inning as Vargas wasn't really paying him much attention.

* Elvis Andrus made a nice, aggressive play on the bases in the third, tagging up from first and taking second base on Hamilton's fly ball. Andrus figured he could make it and slid in just in time (he did go in headfirst, which he said he wasn't going to do for a while). He was at second with two outs when Michael Young hit a single. Andrus ran hard and came home with the third run. It doesn't happen if Andrus doesn't get aggressive on the bases.

* Kinsler's double in the fourth pushed his hitting streak to 10 games. On the homestand prior to the All-Star break, Kinsler hit .325 with two homers and four RBIs, so he was swinging the bat well before coming to Seattle. Kinsler also had a great defensive play, scooping a ball with his glove and flipping it to first base to get Suzuki. The ball never really went into his glove, bounced in two spots and then directed toward first base.

* Cruz was intentionally walked for the first time this year with two outs and Young at second base in the fifth. The Mariners decided to face Torrealba instead. He struck out.

* Craig Gentry stole his 11th base of the season. He still hasn't been caught. That put him at second base in the fifth, and he scored on Andrus' single.

* Napoli hit the club's second opposite-field homer of the night, blasting one out to lead off the fifth.

* From Rangers PR guru Rich Rice: Tonight marks the third time this season for any team to have at least three homers in a game at Safeco Field. M's did it both June 2 vs. TB (four HRs) and June 3 vs. TB (three HRs). Last opponent with three homers in Seattle? Oakland on Oct. 2, 2010 (three). This marks just the eighth time Rangers have ever hit three or more homers in this park, the last time coming July 10, 2009 (three).