Rapid Reaction: Rangers 9, Angels 5
August, 28, 2011
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers made a nice comeback in the seventh inning and won the series over the Los Angeles Angels, taking a three-game lead in the AL West with a month left. Josh Hamilton was huge for the Rangers, as was the club's bullpen and manager Ron Washington making the right moves. It was an important win by Texas to keep the Angels from getting even closer in their rearview mirror. Some quick thoughts (more reaction from the clubhouse shortly):
* The Rangers needed four pitches in the seventh inning to take the lead. The first three came off Jered Weaver, who entered with a 5-4 lead. David Murphy doubled just over the first base bag to start things. Ian Kinsler hit a single to center and Murphy scored. Elvis Andrus bunted down the first-base line and somehow the ball stayed just inside the line. Josh Hamilton then singled to right to give the Rangers the lead. It all happened on the first pitch of each at-bat. The Hamilton hit was against Scott Downs.
* The Rangers got some important insurance runs in that seventh on a shrewd move by Washington. After the Angels brought in RHP Bobby Cassevah to face Craig Gentry (in for injured Nelson Cruz), Washington pinch-hit Endy Chavez. The left-handed hitter hit a single to center to score two big insurance runs and give the Rangers an 8-5 lead.
* Hamilton had perhaps his biggest game of the season. He gave the Rangers the lead with a single to right in the seventh and he tied the game earlier with a two-run home run to Greene's Hill in straightaway center to tie the score in the third. He had three hits on the night, matching his total for the entire homestand coming into the game (3-for-21). He hit a first-pitch off-speed offering from Weaver. It was Hamilton's first career homer off Weaver in his 38th plate appearance against him. (It was his 33rd at-bat. ESPN Stats & Information notes that the player with the most at-bats against Weaver without a homer was Cruz, who had no homers in 49 at-bats coming into the game.)
In other words: Hamilton looked like an MVP. ESPNDallas.com columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor will have more on that in his story.
* The Rangers' bullpen did the job once Texas got the lead. Darren Oliver pitched a scoreless seventh and Mike Adams got some revenge in the eighth. He struck out Mark Trumbo, who hit the memorable two-run walk-off homer off Adams in Anaheim just 10 days ago. Neftali Feliz came in to finish things off in the ninth.
* Some bad news for the Rangers: Cruz strained his left hamstring and will be re-evaluated on Monday. Read more here.
* Colby Lewis was dealing with wobbly fastball command and the Angels took advantage. Lewis' fastball didn't have much life and was up in home plate umpire Jim Wolf's small strike zone. Lewis didn't appear to have a lot of bite on his curveball. Not being able to locate the fastball made things difficult on Lewis from the get-go.
* Lewis gave up some key hits to players who have not hit the ball well this season. Jeff Mathis came in with a .175 average (just .167 against the Rangers) and had an RBI single in the second. Vernon Wells, batting .215, but 9-for-17 in his past five games before Sunday, drove in a run as well. Mathis hit another ball hard off Lewis in the fourth.
* Lewis got a key shutdown inning in the fourth. And his defense deserves the credit. Yorvit Torrealba came out and scooped up a bunt attempt by the speedy Erick Aybar and threw to first to get the out. David Murphy made a great catch on a fly ball by Mathis against the out-of-town scoreboard in left.
* But Lewis wasn't able to hold the lead in the fifth, allowing his AL-leading 31st homer as Howie Kendrick hit his fifth homer against the Rangers this season. Kendrick has homered in five of his past six games.
* The Rangers got some runs from their speedy top of the lineup in the third. Ian Kinsler fell behind 1-2, but worked a walk out of Weaver (who doesn't walk many, just 44 all year coming into the game) and then scored on Elvis Andrus' triple. Kinsler waited to see if Torii Hunter would catch Andrus' fly ball to right and then sped around to home.
* Yorvit Torrealba had a solid night. He hit a homer in the second with one out, putting up the first run of the game for Texas. All five of his homers this season have been hit in Arlington. He also threw out two runners -- one in the second and one in the third. The throw to second to get Howie Kendrick was very impressive (and eliminated the leadoff batter).
* Kinsler had a great game running the bases Sunday. He had a stolen base, was aggressive in getting around on a triple by Andrus and just made things happen. Kinsler scored three runs, including one in the ninth.