Rapid Reaction: Rangers 14, Blue Jays 3
ARLINGTON, Texas – This one was a rout from the first inning. The Texas Rangers looked like a well-rounded contender again in the blowout of the Toronto Blue Jays, not the struggling Texas team seen over the last week and a half.
What it means: Can this be considered evidence that the Rangers’ funk is over? Texas had lost six of nine before Thursday’s day off. They responded with one of their most dominant performances of the season.
Phenomenal first: After Derek Holland struck out the side on 13 pitches in the top of the first, the Rangers bats that had slumbered in Seattle rocked Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow. Texas scored six runs in the first inning -- one shy of their total from the three-game series in Seattle -- and batted around before chasing Morrow from the game with two outs.
It was the shortest start of his career for Morrow, whose ERA shot up from 2.63 to 3.47 after giving up six earned runs on five hits and three walks while recording only two outs.
Leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler set the tone and started the trouble by working a 13-pitch walk. The major damage was done by the bats of Adrian Beltre (two-run single), Nelson Cruz (three-run double) and Mitch Moreland (RBI single).
Big night for Boomstick: The hits and RBIs tend to come in bunches for Cruz.
Cruz went 4-for-5 with a grand slam and eight RBIs against the Blue Jays. It was the second eight-RBI game of his career, making him the only Ranger in history to have eight ribbies more than once. It was the American League-leading ninth three-plus-hit game of the season for Cruz.
Cruz had a bases-loaded double in the first inning and a majestic grand slam in the seventh. Cruz powered the ball an estimated 414 feet the opposite way into the upper deck of the home run porch.
The Blue Jays tend to bring out the best in Cruz. His previous eight-RBI performance came against Toronto on July 22, 2011.
Dutch Oven dazzles: Holland, who had been inconsistent this season, had his best start since his spectacular performance in Game 4 of the World Series.
Holland had a season-high nine strikeouts while allowing six hits in 7 1/3 innings. He allowed two runs, the first on a solo homer by Edwin Encarnacion and the second after reliever Mark Lowe let an inherited runner score.
The lefty’s fastball touched as high as 96 mph, but Holland’s command was the most impressive facet of his outing. He allowed only one walk -- which didn’t happen until the eighth inning -- and consistently pitched from ahead in the count.
Hamilton HR drought ends: Josh Hamilton's solo blast into the home run porch’s upper deck in the second inning snapped his longest homer drought of the season. Hamilton had gone 11 games and 40 at-bats since his last homer May 12, when he wrapped up his historic nine-homer week. Hamilton’s 10 home runs this month ties a club record for May shared by Juan Gonzalez (1998, ’99), Alex Rodriguez (2001) and Vladimir Guerrero (2010).
It was Hamilton’s league-leading 19th homer. The last player in the majors to have 19 homers after 46 games was the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez in 2007. Hamilton is the fastest to 19 homers in Ranger history.
Torrealba finally goes yard: Yorvit Torrealba's home run drought was a heck of a lot longer than Hamilton’s. His 373-foot shot into the left-field seats in the third inning was his first homer of the season. He hit it during his 69th at-bat of the season. Torrelaba had seven homers in 396 at-bats last season.
Tidbits: The Rangers have scored six or more runs in an inning five times this season. Three of those instances occurred in the first inning. … Kinsler had not walked since May 13 before leading off the first by working a 13-pitch walk. … Beltre has nine RBIs in the last nine games. … Lowe allowed a run for only the third time in 15 appearances this season. … Attendance was announced at 46,789. It was the 14th sellout at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington this season, the third most in franchise history. … Craig Gentry pinch hit for Hamilton in the seventh inning. The Rangers announced that Hamilton’s departure was due to a head cold. … Blue Jays backup catcher Jeff Mathis pitched a scoreless eighth inning. A Rangers fan paid Mathis, who has a career .194 batting average, a backhanded compliment by hollering, “You’re a better pitcher than a hitter!”
Up next: Rangers righty Colby Lewis faces Blue Jays righty Henderson Alvarez at 2:05 p.m. Saturday.
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.