Rapid Reaction: Rangers 7, Angels 3
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A two-run home run by Nelson Cruz -- and a mammoth shot at that as ESPN HR Tracker put it at 484 feet, the longest home run in any ballpark this season -- in the seventh helped propel the Rangers to a 7-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Texas played a much better overall game about 12 hours after a team meeting following Saturday's loss.
What it means: The Rangers avoid a sweep and leave Anaheim up 4.5 games in the AL West.
Cruz missile: Cruz hit a monster blast that nearly hit the Monster Energy sign way up the hill in left at Angel Stadium to turn a 3-2 game into a 5-2 Rangers lead in the seventh. More on the homer later. It was Cruz's fourth homer in his last nine games and it came on a 3-0 pitch from Bobby Cassevah. The last time Cruz hit a homer on a 3-0 pitch was Game 1 of the 2010 ALDS off Tampa Bay's David Price. ... It's the eighth 3-0 homer in the big leagues this season and only the second Rangers homer on 3-0 pitch (Ian Kinsler has the other one).
Ogando vs. Pujols: With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning, Alexi Ogando faced Albert Pujols. Ogando hit 99 mph on the radar gun twice and then clocked 100 as Pujols hit a fly ball to left to end the inning. Pujols is 2-for-19 against the Rangers this season.
Working Haren: The Rangers had long at-bats and collected hits that forced starter Dan Haren to throw too many pitches early. He had 104 pitches through five innings, forcing Mike Scioscia to go to the bullpen earlier than he would have liked. Rangers starter Matt Harrison, on the other hand, was at just 39 pitches through four innings.
Quality start: Harrison allowed three runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings and earned the win. Harrison had three strikeouts and three walks, but he pitched efficiently and nearly got through seven innings. He gave up a single and a walk with two outs in the seventh and was taken out in favor of Ogando. Harrison threw 85 pitches.
Leadoff walks hurt: Harrison was perfect through four innings before issuing a four-pitch walk to Mark Trumbo to lead off the fifth. After striking out Torii Hunter and getting Howard Kendrick to fly out, Erick Aybar's double (the Angels' first hit) scored Trumbo to make it a one-run game.
Small ball: The Rangers did the little things to score in the sixth. After David Murphy's ground-rule double to right, Mike Napoli hung in and was grazed by Cassevah's pitch, putting two on with no outs. Mitch Moreland put down a good bunt to get the runners over, allowing Murphy to then score on Kinsler's ground ball. That gave Texas a two-run lead.
Aggressive on bases: Napoli, who singled to lead off the third and went to second on Moreland's hit, tagged up and went to third on Kinsler's fly ball to right. It was a shallow fly ball and despite a good throw on the run by Trumbo, Napoli slid in just in front of the tag. He scored on Elvis Andrus' double to right that Trumbo got turned around on.
Andrus' great game: After a rough play on defense on Saturday, Andrus came out fired up. He had a single and an RBI double in the first three innings and made a terrific defensive play on Aybar, going into the hole, backhanding a ball and making a strong, off-balance throw to first. ... He also made a great play in the hole in the eighth, getting Trumbo out after getting to a ball that most shortstops couldn't. ... His only blemish was a relay throw to home plate that was offline in the fifth, helping Trumbo slide in before Napoli could get the tag applied. ... Andrus was at it again with his bat in the ninth, driving in Napoli with a two-out single.
Some wasted chances: One thing lacking recently is the Rangers' ability to put together big innings. They had a chance in the third after Napoli and Moreland singled and Andrus drove home a run with a one-out double to put runners at second and third. But Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre both struck out to end the inning. ... After playing small ball to score a run in the sixth, the Rangers loaded the bases with two outs, including back-to-back walks to Andrus and Hamilton, but Beltre grounded into a force out to end the inning. ... Texas did string together some hits in the ninth to add two big insurance runs. ... Texas left 14 men on base and was 4-for-16 with RISP.
Gentry stolen base: Craig Gentry came in to pinch run for Murphy in the ninth and stole second base. He scored moments later on Napoli's single. Gentry's speed, once again, made a difference.
Up next: Texas travels to San Francisco, where the Rangers will stay for a full week that includes four games against Oakland and three against the Giants.
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.