Rapid Reaction: Rangers 7, Oakland 6
June, 28, 2012
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers showed patience at the plate and aggressiveness on the bases and survived an Oakland A's comeback to win 7-6. It was the third straight game in which Texas scored at least seven runs. Some quick thoughts:
What it means: The Rangers stay 4 1/2 games in front of the Angels, who beat Toronto on Thursday. Texas also has the best record in the majors again, passing the New York Yankees tonight.
Nathan gets through stressful ninth: Closer Joe Nathan, in to nail things down in the ninth, issued just his fourth walk of the season (it came right after he got his 42nd strikeout of the season) to Derek Norris with one out. A wild pitch and then a bloop single by Yoenis Cespedes put runners on the corners. It appeared the A's had loaded the bases when Seth Smith was hit in the leg, but he swung at the pitch, meaning he could not advance. Nathan ended up striking him out for the second out and got Brandon Inge to ground out to short.
Big fifth shows versatility: Texas put up four runs in the fifth inning and did it despite just one hit out of the infield. Leonys Martin started things with a leadoff walk and Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus had infield hits to score the first run. Josh Hamilton walked (more on that below) to load the bases and Adrian Beltre drove in the second run of the inning on a four-pitch walk. With two outs, the red-hot David Murphy stroked a single through the hole between first and second, which brought two runs home. So the Rangers' offense got four runs on the board without an extra-base hit.
Patience, Josh, patience: Josh Hamilton had one of his most patient at-bats of the season, laying off pitches outside the zone (something that's been a problem for him this month especially), fouling off a few pitches and then drawing a walk with two on in the fifth. That loaded the bases for Adrian Beltre, who walked in a run. Hamilton walked in his next at-bat, too, and Beltre followed with a sacrifice fly to score Andrus.
Homer happy: The first three A's hits were solo home runs off Feldman, including back-to-back long balls from Derek Norris and Cliff Pennington -- the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters -- in the third inning. All three home runs were hit in the first three innings.
Feldman struggles: Feldman gave up four runs on nine hits in with a walk and three strikeouts -- and the three homers -- in five innings. He came out for the sixth after the Rangers took the lead, but gave up two straight singles and exited. But he did enough to earn a win.
Timely double play: Tanner Scheppers came in for Feldman with no outs and immediately got a double-play grounder to help kill an Oakland rally. Kinsler made a nice play, scooping the grounder and smoothly flipping to Andrus covering second to start the double play. Scheppers got Pennington to fly out to right to end the inning. Scheppers struggled a bit in the seventh, allowing two runs on a walk and a single, and was lifted with one out for Robbie Ross.
Executing fundamentals: It wasn't flashy, but the Rangers turned an Ian Kinsler leadoff double into a run with aggressive play on the bases and productive outs. Kinsler tagged up on Elvis Andrus' fly ball in foul territory to shallow right field and easily beat a wide throw from Josh Reddick. Hamilton, struggling at the plate this month, hit a ground ball to the right side to score Kinsler to tie the game.
Speed kills: The Rangers were super aggressive on the bases. Kinsler had two stolen bases and Martin added another. Texas kept putting pressure on the Oakland pitchers and it was clear they were worried about the Rangers' running game. The Rangers ended up with four stolen bases on the night, tying a season high. Texas now has 63 stolen bases on the season, which leads the AL.
Four-hit night: For the first time this season, Kinsler had a four-hit night. He had a double and three singles, stole two bases and scored three runs. That's what a leadoff hitter does. And it was his 34th multi-hit game, which leads the AL.
Rough baserunning: Sometime aggressiveness can hurt your chances at scoring runs, too. That was the case in the seventh inning for the Rangers. Michael Young was thrown out at third base on a bloop to center. The A's didn't catch a high pop to shallow center and Young tried to go from second to third on the play even though he was close to the second-base bag as the ball dropped. He was thrown out easily. ... Later that inning, Nelson Cruz strayed too far from second and when a fly ball was caught in center, a quick throw to second got Cruz for an inning-ending double play.
Tidbits: Craig Gentry pinch hit for David Murphy in the seventh and got a single. ... Thursday was the sixth straight game that took at least three hours. ... Joe Nathan closed out the game for a second straight night.
Up next: LHP Matt Harrison (10-3, 3.24 ERA) takes on RHP A.J. Griffin (0-0, 3.00 ERA) in the second game of the series at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and TXA21.