Rapid Reaction: Rangers 10, Angels 3
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers wasted little time in jumping on the Angels, using a six-run first inning -- that took a lot longer than expected thanks to a nearly two-hour rain delay -- on their way to a 10-3 victory. Texas had 15 hits. Yu Darvish pitched well, staying in after the delay, and Josh Hamilton added two more homers to increase his MLB-leading total to 17 this season.
What it means: The win means the Rangers are eight games ahead of the Angels in the AL West and move to a MLB-best 22-11. Oakland beat the Tigers, so the Rangers' lead remains five games over the A's, the largest division lead in the AL.
Darvish solid yet again: Don't let the line deceive you. Yu Darvish was very good Friday. He stayed loose through a 1-hour, 56-minute rain delay and got through 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs -- all of them on two homers (one by Mike Trout in the third, the other by Torii Hunter in the sixth) with seven strikeouts and three walks. Darvish's slider was very effective, but he didn't try to do anything fancy after he got staked to a 6-0 lead in the first. To Darvish's credit, he attacked hitters with his fastball and changed speeds with the slider but didn't appear to get caught up in throwing his entire arsenal.
Infield hits: The Rangers got things going in the first thanks to three infield singles. Elvis Andrus started it, followed by Hamilton (who slid headfirst into first even though no throw was made) and then Adrian Beltre. The Beltre grounder might have started an inning-ending double play, but Howie Kendrick didn't field it cleanly and then made an errant throw to first. Wilson then walked Michael Young to load the bases for Nelson Cruz. And that's when the rain came.
Flood gates open after rain quits: Cruz hit the first pitch he saw from Jerome Williams (who replaced C.J. Wilson) on the ground between shortstop and third base for a two-run single. That made it 3-0. Mike Napoli's ground ball was thrown to second, but the throw was not in time and the bases were loaded as another run scored. Then, Craig Gentry's two-run triple put the Rangers up 6-0 after the first inning.
Rain ends Wilson's start early: Wilson threw just 22 pitches (12 strikes) in his first start at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington as an Angel. But a nearly two-hour delay forced Wilson from the game as Williams, the scheduled starter for Saturday's game, came into the game in relief. Wilson's line: 1/3 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.
Torrealba hit by bat: Catcher Yorvit Torrealba was hit by Albert Pujols' bat as the slugger followed through on his swing in the first inning, and suffered a head contusion. He left the game after the rain delay. Pujols' bat broke, but the part of the bat he still had in his hands hit Torrealba in the head, knocking off his mask. He was looked at by manager Ron Washington and head athletic trainer Jamie Reed and stayed in for the next batter before he exited after the rain left. Napoli went to catcher and Mitch Moreland, who pinch-hit for Torrealba in the first after the rain delay, played first.
Hamilton homers twice: Josh Hamilton continued his ridiculous season (and, in particular, past week) at the plate. He had two home runs Friday -- one was a pitching wedge to right field with serious hang time, the other a 3-iron line drive -- and now has 17 homers this season. After the second homer in the fourth, Hamilton had eight home runs in his past 17 at-bats (five games). ... He has 17 home runs in the club's first 33 games (Friday was Hamilton's 30th game). According to baseball-reference.com, the only other two players since 1918 to hit that many homers in their team's first 33 games of a season were Cy Williams with the Phillies in 1923 and Frank Howard with the Senators in 1968. ... At one point, manager Ron Washington just shook his head at Hamilton, probably amazed (like everyone else) by what Hamilton is doing right now. ... It was his sixth career multihit game and his second of the season. ... Hamilton came up with first base open and two outs in the fifth and the Angels intentionally walked him.
Dugout warnings: Williams threw behind Ian Kinsler in the fifth. It's unclear why, though it's possible that it was because the Rangers continued to put runners on the move in a 9-2 game (and if that's the reason, I'm perplexed because it's the fifth inning and you never know if a team can scratch back in it with four innings left and if you wanted to send that kind of message, it would make more sense to hit Gentry, who had stolen one before ... so I don't know). Williams and both dugouts were warned. Darvish did end up throwing inside and hitting Mark Trumbo with one out in the sixth. It's unclear if that was Darvish's way of sticking up for his teammate. But that was Darvish's last batter, as Ron Washington opted to go with Mark Lowe to get the last two outs of the sixth inning.
Wilson booed during intros: It was not surprising to hear boos when Wilson was introduced by public address announcer Chuck Morgan. Read more about that here.
Napoli going triple crazy: Napoli, who went two years without a triple before hitting one Thursday night in Baltimore, hit another one Friday. He hit a long fly ball to left that Vernon Wells couldn't track down and he slid in just safely at third.
Aggressive running: The Rangers were aggressive on the bases as usual. Andrus and Gentry had stolen bases, while Cruz was thrown out. But Texas wasn't afraid to keep the pressure on, even with a six-run lead.
Streaks continue: Andrus singled in the first, pushing his hitting streak to 11 games and has been on base in 29 consecutive games this season, the current high in the big leagues.
Pujols 0-for-4: Pujols' batting average dipped to .192 after he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He didn't get a ball out of the infield.
Walk streak ends: Koji Uehara issued his first walk since Aug. 6, 2011 vs. Cleveland. He went a club-record 28 consecutive appearances without a walk before Friday. But he pitched a scoreless eighth.
Tidbits: Mike Trout was running on a pitch in the seventh and thought it was a foul ball. So after he got to second, he started to head back to first until someone yelled at him. The Rangers weren't covering the bag, so he wasn't tagged out, but he was smiling. ... Kudos to the crowd of 48,201, the club's seventh straight sellout, for staying through the delay. ... Moreland's homer in the seventh hit the ribbon board on the Home Run Porch in right (402 feet). It was his fourth homer of the season. ... Lowe pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts.
Up next: It's a quick turnaround, as the Rangers and Angels play at 12:05 p.m. Saturday. Matt Harrison will be on the mound for the Rangers.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.