Rapid Reaction: Rangers 8, Rays 6

October, 1, 2011
10/01/11
9:37
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers offense came to life against Tampa Bay's No. 1 starter James Shields and then held on for an 8-6 win that evens the series at a game apiece. Game 3 is Monday at 4:07 p.m. Dallas time at Tropicana Field. Some quick thoughts (more to come from the clubhouse shortly):

* The win was the first ALDS victory at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in club history. They were 0-for-7 before Saturday in the ALDS.

* A big fourth-inning finally got the Rangers offense going. After 14 straight scoreless playoff innings (dating to Game 5 of the World Series), Texas busted through with five in the fourth to turn a 3-0 deficit into a 5-3 lead. Some highlights:

-- Two Rangers were hit by pitches -- Elvis Andrus to lead off the inning and Adrian Beltre with the bases loaded. It's the second time Beltre has been hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. This one in the fourth drove in the first Ranger run of the game.

-- Mike Napoli, who has been one of the hottest hitters in the league, delivered with a two-RBI single with the bases loaded and one out. That tied the game. Napoli hit .279 (19-for-68) on 3-2 counts in the regular season with six homers and 14 RBIs. He got the count where he wanted in a nine-pitch at-bat.

-- Umpire Kerwin Danley missed a call when David Murphy hit a ball that went in front of home plate for an apparent out. Danley said it hit Murphy. Replays showed it didn't. Shields threw a wild pitch to move runners to second and third and Murphy then struck out on wild pitch to score Beltre and leave everyone safe.

-- Mitch Moreland, in his first 2011 postseason appearance, hit a ground-ball out. But it was productive as it scored Napoli with the fifth and final run of the inning.

* Derek Holland pitched five innings, many of which weren't exactly stress-free. He ended up allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

* Holland got into trouble in the first. A one-out double and a walk to Evan Longoria put two on with one out. But after getting Ben Zobrist to fly out for the second out, Johnny Damon got an infield single (at 37, he sure does run hard) and Kelly Shoppach walked with the bases loaded to score the first run. Sean Rodriguez swung at the first pitch in the next at-bat and grounded out. Holland needed 52 pitches to get through the first two innings.

* Holland had a throwing error in the fourth, the second error (both throwing) in the series for the Rangers. And it was costly. Holland retired the first two batters in the inning quickly, but on a chopper to the mound threw wildly to first, allowing Casey Kotchman to get to second. No. 9 hitter Matt Joyce then turned on a 94 mph fastball and hit it out to right field for a 3-0 lead.

* Alexi Ogando came in to relieve Holland in the sixth and had his fastball cooking. He struck out pinch-hitter John Jaso on a 99 mph fastball. He looked rested and ready with very little sign of nerves. He gave up a two-out double to Casey Kotchman, but stayed in against the left-handed Joyce, who grounded out to first.

* Moreland made a nice diving play to get Joyce to end the sixth, smothering a ball to his right and then flipping to Ogando covering the bag. It's yet another sign that manager Ron Washington's gut knows what it's doing.

* Moreland then came up in the eighth and hit a big insurance HR to right field, his first homer since June 21.

* The Rangers scored some critical insurance runs in the sixth. With two on, Craig Gentry put down a sacrifice bunt that he didn't think was very good. But it took a left-hand turn on a bounce after hitting the dirt and ended up doing the job. Kinsler then delivered a two-run single to right field, clapping his hands hard as he reached second base.

* Washington decided not to stick with Ogando and went to Koji Uehara in the seventh. The reliver walked leadoff batter Desmond Jennings (Uehara had just one walk in 18 innings as a Ranger in the regular season) and with two on, surrendered a 415-foot shot to left-center by Longoria. That made the score 7-6. Uehara has allowed six homers since coming to Texas with four of those in Arlington in just 6 1/3 innings (he didn't get an out in his outing on Saturday).

* Darren Oliver came in and retired all three batters he faced in the seventh, getting a ground out, strikeout and fly out.

* Mike Adams pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Neftali Feliz allowed a walk, but earned the save.

* Shields' changeup was particularly effective against right-handed batters the first three innings. The Rangers came into the game with the plan of laying off the low stuff and swinging at the pitches in the zone, especially those high. But that is difficult with Shields' movement and he got many hitters fishing for that off-speed stuff that dropped out of the zone. When he got the pitch up in the fourth, the Rangers took advantage.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.324 19 77 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182