Rapid Reaction: Rangers 9, Angels 2
The Texas Rangers used a solid outing from Yu Darvish and an offensive explosion, including five home runs, to propel themselves to a 7-2 road win over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. Some quick thoughts on the win:
What it means: After dropping the opener of the three-game series, the Rangers evened things up at a game apiece. More importantly, Texas now leads the Angels by six games in the American League West. The Rangers are 17-16 against their division opponents, including a 4-4 mark against L.A.
Early lead: For the second consecutive game, the Rangers scored a run in the first to get out on top before the Angels got a chance to hit. Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton got back-to-back singles before Adrian Beltre grounded into a fielder's choice, leaving runners on the corners with two outs. Michael Young came through in the clutch, driving in the first run of the game.
Extra-base hits rule second: After grabbing a lead in the first, Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba led off the second inning with back-to-back solo home runs off Ervin Santana. It was Napoli's first home run since June 22 against the Colorado Rockies. The Rangers followed the home runs with back-to-back doubles from Craig Gentry and Ian Kinsler that pushed another run across. Beltre capped off the frame with a two-run shot of his own to make it a 6-0 game.
Early exit: Santana wasn't expecting to leave so early, but the Texas offense sent him packing in the second. A five-run frame ended Santana's day after 1 2/3 innings in which he gave up six runs on eights hits, including three home runs. It was the second time in the last three starts that Santana wasn't able to make it out of the second.
Bounce-back performance: In his last start, Darvish gave up seven runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings that capped one of the worst performances of his career. He bounced back with a good outing. The talented rookie had the Angels hitters off balance, allowing just two runs on three hits with four walks and 11 strikeouts in seven innings of work on the mound. Darvish, who picked up his 11th win of the year and broke a streak of two consecutive losses, threw 18 first-pitch strikes to help him get ahead of hitters and control each at-bat. His 11 strikeouts matched a career high, and it's the sixth time this season he's recorded double-digit punchouts. Darvish had not allowed two earned runs or less since June 20 in a win at San Diego.
Offensive explosion: The Texas offense broke out for a dominating performance after being less than stellar for the last few weeks. The nine runs were the most the Rangers have scored since a 13-9 win over the Detroit Tigers on June 27. Texas accumulated 15 hits on the day, which is the first time since the All-Star break they have reached double-digit hits. Each starter in the Rangers' lineup recorded a hit. It is the first time that has happened since Texas' 9-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 12.
Deja vu?: Last season, Napoli came to life in the second half of the season. With the struggles he has shown in 2012, could he do it again? He's showing he is certainly capable against his former team. Before having a three-hit night Friday, Napoli had just two hits in his previous 22 at-bats. However, he continued the success from Friday, going 2-for-3 on Saturday with two home runs. It was his ninth career multi-homer game and his first since April 17 at Boston. Napoli is 13-for-25 all-time against the Angels.
Unforced mistakes: Darvish surrendered his two runs due to his own doing. He started the third inning against the No. 8 and 9 batters with a walk and a hit batter. Rookie sensation Mike Trout made him pay with a single up the middle off the glove of Andrus to score a run. Darvish limited the damage to just that with a strikeout and a double play on a caught line drive by Beltre to end the threat. In the fifth, he walked Trout with two outs. Trout stole second before scoring on a RBI single from Torii Hunter.
A triple away: Torrealba, who was making his first appearance since being reinstated from paternity leave, almost made history. The catcher was a triple away from the cycle and ended the day 3-for-4. With the home run in the second inning, he ended a 1-for-18 slump.
Good outing for Ogando: Alexi Ogando had a nice bounce-back performance in making his third appearance since returning from the disabled list. The right-hander pitched a perfect eighth with two strikeouts. In his last outing, Ogando gave up a run in one inning of work against Oakland. Since the injury, he has thrown 2 2/3 innings, giving up one run on one hit with two strikeouts.
New hit streak?: Young had his six-game hitting streak end Friday in the series-opening loss, but Saturday he picked up where he was before Friday's contest. The veteran finished the day 1-for-4 with a RBI. Young is 8-for-21 with runners in scoring position over the last 18 games after hitting 5-for-37 (.143) in those situations in the previous 37 contests.
Up Next: The Rangers and Angels finish out the three-game set in Anaheim on Sunday. The matchup will feature LHP Matt Harrison (12-4, 2.87 ERA) vs. RHP Dan Haren (6-8, 4.86 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/ESPN.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus joins Galloway & Company to discuss having Scott Boras as his agent, his new contract and having Jurickson Profar in the lineup.
Play Podcast Rangers manager Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss Yu Darvish's pitch count and how he spends time in the clubhouse during weather delays.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway & Company for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news.
Play Podcast Reid Ryan joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his new position with the Houston Astros and whether he could see his dad, Nolan, joining him there in the future.
Play Podcast ESPN MLB Insider Jayson Stark joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss if the Rangers are the best team in baseball, what makes them so good and if he thinks the team will trade Jurickson Profar.
Play Podcast Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Ron Washington's decision to send Yu Darvish to the mound for the eighth inning Thursday night and how he would handle a situation like that if he were still a GM.
Play Podcast Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss the latest Rangers news, including the Yu Darvish-Justin Verlander matchup.
Play Podcast Nelson Cruz joins Galloway & Company to discuss the Rangers' series in Oakland, his ups and downs at the plate and if the PED talks before the season were a distraction.