Rangers ride fifth, A's mistakes to win
The Rangers have made a habit of engineering big innings en route to wins this month. They have had at least a four-run inning in five straight games.
Their latest offensive explosion began with the Rangers trailing 2-1. Nelson Cruz reached first base on an error, the first of two that would put runners on base in the fifth inning. Mike Napoli then hit a single and Yorvit Torrealba reached first on a fielder's choice.
In one of the key plays of the inning, Cruz was caught in a rundown between third and home during Torrealba's fielder's choice. But Cruz made sure to make his rundown last long enough to move Napoli to third and Torrealba to second.
Craig Gentry would have been the one to bring the two runners home, were it not for an impressive leaping grab by Brandon Hicks of Oakland. That brought Ian Kinsler to the plate with two outs.
Kinsler had struck out in his two previous at bats but came through in the fifth with a two-RBI single to put the Rangers up and extend the inning.
"We expect to score and we expect to put pressure on a team consistently throughout the game," Kinsler said. "Getting a two-out RBI and putting us up in that game was big."
Kinsler said that his previous struggles at the plate had no bearing on his performance in the fifth.
"You don’t carry one at bat into the next at bat," He said. "I wasn’t up there thinking I need to get this done because I struck out twice. I was thinking I need to get this done because we’re down by one."
Rangers manager Ron Washington said he was pleased that Kinsler could come up with a hit in that situation.
"Two-out base hits are tough to come by, but we're getting them right now and we're not going to complain about it," Washington said.
Kinsler was moved over to second when Elvis Andrus reached base on an error in the next at bat. That set up Josh Hamilton for a three-run bomb, his 25th of the season and fourth of the month, to put the Rangers up, 6-2.
"We've always had at least one big inning, that's kind of been our deal," Hamilton said. "We got key hits with guys in scoring position. We've had guys in scoring postiion all year, but we've had trouble getting them in."
Hamilton became the faster player in Rangers history to reach 25 homers in a season (79 games) and is just fifth player in club history to have 25 home runs in four or more seasons. He joins Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira in that category.
"I'm excited about it,"It's one of those things. I haven't tried to hit home runs. The biggest thing is to try to hit the ball hard, not far. It works."
The inning ended in the next at bat, but at that point the Rangers had already built a lead that the A's could not catch. The five-run fifth also assured that Martin Perez would get credit for the win in his first career major league start. Washington said that the Rangers resourcefulness was key for their success.
"Tonight, they made a couple of errors and we made them pay for it," Washington said. "We're trying to continue to play good baseball and we are. It takes everybody to continue it. We're playing hard, making things happen and take advantage of it."
Perhaps Kinsler put it best when he sat down in front of his locker and was greeted by a throng of reporters.
"We're just good man," He said. "We're really good at baseball."
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