Ian Kinsler sparks Rangers' offensive outburst
It seems simple, and frankly, it is. Sure, that can be said for nearly every leadoff hitter in baseball, but when it comes to Kinsler and the Rangers, it's different.
Texas slugged its way to a 15-9 win against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night that meant a series split after the thrilling 11-10 comeback victory Wednesday. It was quite the coming out party for an offense that had been dismal for nearly two months.
"We kind of found ourselves as a team halfway through the game (Wednesday)," David Murphy said. "The team that stepped on the field (Wednesday) is a completely different team than the one that's leaving here (Thursday). Our offense is definitely back."
The Rangers combined to score 26 runs in the last two games after averaging just 3.52 runs per game in July. So, yes, the Texas offense is back. So what has been the difference?
The dynamic leadoff man was just 22-for-90 (.244) with three doubles, two home runs, seven RBIs and 10 runs scored during July. In these first two games of August that has seen a Rangers offensive explosion, Kinsler is 6-for-11 (.545) with a double, two home runs, four RBIs and six runs scored.
"That's what a leadoff man does," Murphy said. "He's a spark plug at the top of the lineup. When he is getting on base, he gets the ball rolling. It's always more fun to hit with guys on base. It's infectious for the rest of the team when Kinsler is getting on."
Kinsler admitted he notices that when he contributes the Rangers usually come out victorious and that when he doesn't, it's harder for the club to come out on top.
"I definitely notice," he said. "I try to get things going the best I can. The last couple of games, we've been scoring a lot of runs early and it's given ourselves a chance to run and get things going. It's been nice."
After the Rangers' emotional roller coaster win Wednesday, the Angels came out and put up two runs in the first inning Thursday to try to get some of that momentum they had built in the first two games of the series back. But Kinsler quickly set the tone for the Rangers offense by belting a home run in the bottom half of the first.
"That's the nature of having a leadoff guy who can generate the offense and be a catalyst," Michael Young said. "You want a guy that can provide some energy and the rest of the guys can feed of off it."
And boy, did they.
The Rangers were locked and loaded at the plate from the start. Ten of the 11 Rangers hitters that had an at-bat recorded a hit, and seven had at least two hits for the night. The Rangers struggled mightily for the better part of the summer to capitalize with runners in scoring position. On Thursday, they were 11-for-13.
"I think (Thursday) was very typical Rangers baseball," Kinsler said. "We scored as many runs as we needed to win the game. I think that was important. I think (Wednesday) was a huge night for us with just the way we battled, and it gave us huge energy. I think (Thursday) was the way Rangers baseball is drawn up."
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.