Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Oakland 1
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish and a four-run fourth inning helped the Texas Rangers end a two-game slide and beat the Oakland A's, 4-1. Some quick thoughts on Wednesday night's game:
What it means: Texas is now five games in front of the A's, who are second in the AL West. It's the largest division lead in the AL.
Darvish consistent: Darvish is making quality starts a habit. He went 7 2/3 innings and gave up one run on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. He's now got six wins, the most by a rookie in the AL this season. ... The single by Jemile Weeks in the eighth was Darvish's first hit allowed since a two-out single by Collin Cowgill in the third. Darvish added seven strikeouts, pushing his total to 58 on the season through eight starts. He now has five straight games of seven or more strikeouts, tying him with CC Sabathia for the big league lead. ... Darvish's 51 strikeouts through his seven career starts are the most in Rangers history and seventh all-time, according to baseball-reference.com (Nolan Ryan was eighth at 50 strikeouts through his first seven career starts in 1968).
Four is key number: Darvish was 49-0 in Japan when he got at least four runs of support and is now 5-0 in the big leagues when he gets that much support.
Darvish's glove solid: It's easy to overlook Darvish's defense since he's got such great movement on his pitches, but he knows what he's doing with his glove and feet. He made a nice stab at a chopper in the fourth (to retire Kila Ka'aihue) and always does a nice job of getting to first base quickly on a ground ball to first.
Speedy Gentry: Craig Gentry's speed was on display on Wednesday. He had a bunt single in the third, beat out an infield hit in the fourth (ground ball to third) and he sprinted to reach a ball deep in the left-center gap on a fly ball from Seth Smith.
Hamilton hit streak at 16: Josh Hamilton extended his hit streak to 16 games, the longest streak in the American League this season. Hamilton did it with an infield single in the fourth inning that hopped just past the mound toward second. Weeks had no chance to get Hamilton.
Beltre belts one: With Hamilton on in the fourth, Beltre hit a first-pitch changeup 371 feet to right field to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.
Four in the fourth: The clutch hits that had escaped the Rangers the past two games returned in the fourth inning. What makes this lineup -- even when two starters are out (Michael Young got a rest and Ian Kinsler had a stomach illness) -- dangerous is that they can keep getting runners on base and put pressure on opponents. Even after Beltre's homer, Nelson Cruz had an infield single. Yorvit Torrealba walked. Then, with two outs and a runner in scoring position, Gentry beat out an infield single (it seemed like third baseman Josh Donaldson thought he had more time than he did) to score a run. And Elvis Andrus got his 18th RBI of the season on a single to score Torrealba.
New streak: One night after Andrus' 32-game on-base streak ended when he was unable to get on as a pinch hitter in the ninth, he got on base twice Wednesday, starting a new streak. Andrus has a hit in 17 of his last 20 games and his hitting .426 (32-for-75) over that span. He is 8-for-22 with two runs and two RBIs in this homestand.
Mickelson in front row: Four-time major winner Phil Mickelson, who is playing in this week's HP Byron Nelson Championship for the first time since 2007, was in the owner's box for most of Wednesday's game, leaving in the eighth. Mickelson has a 7:30 a.m. tee time off No. 10 at TPC Four Seasons in Las Colinas on Thursday.
Kinsler sick: Ian Kinsler was scratched from the lineup about 30 minutes prior to the game with a stomach illness. Alberto Gonzalez took his place at second base and Andrus was moved up to the leadoff spot with Gonzalez batting second.
Tidbits: The Rangers have yet another sellout Thursday with only scattered singles and a limited number of obstructed view and standing room only tickets left. All other reserved seats have been sold. ... They had 46,370 on Wednesday, the 12th sellout of the season. That's the third-most in Rangers history. The only two seasons with more than 12 sellouts: 1994 (21) and 1998 (15). ... Gary Sinise threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Mike Adams struck out the only batter he faced in the eighth, and Joe Nathan closed the game out in the ninth with three straight strikeouts.
Up next: Matt Harrison will start against former Ranger Brandon McCarthy at 1:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW. It's the final game of this quick two-game series.
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.