Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, Rays 5
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers' offense once again was impressive, collecting early hits and runs off Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price and then the bullpen was able to nail things down late to preserve the 6-5 victory.
What it means: Texas has won eight of its past 10 games and stays 5 1/2 games in front of the Oakland A's in the AL West and moves to 10 up on the Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers also stay ahead of the New York Yankees for the best record in the AL. ... The Rangers have scored at least five runs in each of the past six games and eight of the past nine.
Price isn't right: Coming into Monday's game, Price allowed two runs in his past four starts combined. He gave up three in the second inning alone and the Rangers had five hits before Price even had an out in the third. He ended up giving up six runs, the most he has allowed since June 13, when the Mets scored seven off him in five innings. That was also the last time he'd lost a game before Monday. Price also gave up 10 hits (in 22 batters faced). ... The four innings (plus three batters) was the shortest outing for Price since he went three innings in Boston on April 13. It ended a streak of 12 straight starts of at least seven innings pitched for Price. ... The 69 pitches were the fewest he has thrown in a start (in which he was healthy) since July 25, 2009 (threw 56 in three innings versus Toronto). ... Price now has a 10.26 ERA in four career starts at Rangers Ballpark.
Rangers on attack: The Rangers weren't simply content to try to work Price. They went after him with some early swings. They went down 1-2-3 in the first inning on five pitches, but after just seven pitches in the second, the Rangers had tied the score with two homers and added two singles. They decided that the best pitch to hit might be early in the count and they were swinging freely. ... Of the 10 hits the Rangers got against Price, eight of them were on at-bats of four pitches or fewer (five of them on two or fewer pitches). The other two hits were on five-pitch at-bats.
Back-to-back jacks: Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz hit back-to-back homers to lead off the second inning and tie the score. Both homers were more than 400 feet and traveled a combined distance of 812 feet (Beltre to left, Cruz to right-center). They saw just five pitches between them. ... Beltre now has seven seasons of 25 or more homers in his career, including three straight.
Beltre rolling: Beltre was named AL Player of the Week after having a three-homer game and hitting for the cycle in another game last week. He's apparently interested in keeping the honor for another week. Besides the home run in the third, he added a two-run double that turned a tie game into a 5-3 Rangers lead in the third.
Top four gets Holland: Derek Holland had trouble getting out the first four batters in the Rays' lineup on Monday. All five runs in the first five innings were scored by Desmond Jennings, B.J. Upton, Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria. That group was 6-for-11 with a homer and two triples through five frames Monday. ... Because the first two runs were unearned, Holland ends up with a quality start, allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts in six innings.
Ogando smokes 'em: Alexi Ogando came into the game in the seventh to face the top of the order, which was hot, and smoked some fastballs by them. He struck out Jennings on a 97-mph, 3-2 fastball. He retired Upton on three straight swinging strikes -- one at 98 mph and the other two at 99 -- and he got Zobrist to pop up on a 98-mph fastball.
Bullpen finishes it off: Besides Ogando, Mike Adams came in and got all three batters he faced in the eighth, and Joe Nathan finished things off in the ninth. Nathan has converted 24 straight saves. The bullpen had six strikeouts in nine batters faced and set them all down in order.
Olt two-strike approach: Mike Olt turned 24 on Monday and was in the starting lineup against the lefty Price. With a runner at third and one out in the second inning, Olt fell behind 0-2. But he did what he needed to do in grounding to second, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
Costly defense: Elvis Andrus had a rough first inning on defense. He seemed unsure what to do on a high chopper off the bat of B.J. Upton that had some odd spin on it. Rather than attack the ball, Andrus got caught in between and couldn't field it and throw Upton out. The error put a runner on with one out. It appeared, though, that a ground ball would erase the mistake. First baseman Mike Olt gloved the grounder and threw to Andrus covering second to try to start a double play. But Andrus lost the ball in the transition and could not make the return throw. Tampa Bay took advantage of the extra out when Longoria hit a two-run homer.
Tidbits: Holland gave up his team-high 24th homer in the first inning Monday when Longoria hit a 3-2 fastball (94 mph) off the foul pole to give the Rays a 2-0 lead. ... Attendance was 29,453. That's the second-lowest this season (April 10, versus Seattle, was 25,753). Blame the first day of school.
Up next: RHP Yu Darvish (12-9, 4.51 ERA) makes his first start against the Tampa Bay Rays, who counter with RHP James Shields (12-7, 4.01 ERA).
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.