Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, Angels 2
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Derek Holland turned in his sixth consecutive quality start Wednesday night to help the Texas Rangers beat the Los Angeles Angels, 6-2. Holland surrendered two runs in seven innings, striking out four and improving his record to 11-6. Some quick thoughts:
What it means: The Rangers increased their lead in the American League West standings to four games over the Oakland Athletics, who lost to the Detroit Tigers, 6-2.
Insurance runs: With the Rangers clinging to a one-run lead, Nelson Cruz doubled in Michael Young after Young beat out a grounder to the right side to lead off the eighth. Mike Napoli drew a two-out walk, and the Angels brought in flamethrower Jordan Walden to stop the bleeding but Geovany Soto had other plans, launching a homer to deep center field for the four-run cushion.
Confidence goes both ways: Holland spoke at length Tuesday about his new-found confidence and improved mental preparation. Rangers manager Ron Washington showed his own confidence, sending the left-hander to the mound in the seventh inning when it appeared that the Angels had the momentum. Holland set the Halos down in order, getting Vernon Wells, Alberto Callaspo and Mark Trumbo to hit weak fly balls.
Three spot: Texas chased C.J. Wilson in the third with three runs off four hits, and the former Ranger hit the showers after making just 66 pitches. Ian Kinsler led off the third with a single and scored on Elvis Andrus' triple off the right-field wall. Young doubled to score Andrus, Napoli doubled to score Young two batters later, and Texas had all the runs it would need.
Odd 8-4-3 double play: Center fielder Craig Gentry chased down a Callaspo fly ball deep in left-center and fired to Kinsler, who relayed to first base from short center to double up a scrambling Wells. The rare defensive play even drew some applause from the Angel Stadium crowd.
Hanger: Callaspo got some revenge in the fifth, depositing an elevated sinker from Holland into the left-field seats for a two-run homer. It was Holland's only mistake of the night, really.
Gentry, again: Josh Hamilton's incumbent gunned out a greedy Albert Pujols at second after a single found the gap. The throw had to be perfect, and it was.
Golden opportunity: With Hamilton (vision) and Adrian Beltre (abdomen) out of the lineup, Napoli was undoubtedly the player Washington would have wanted at the plate with the bases loaded in the first inning. Texas had Wilson against the ropes when Napoli stepped into the box, but the former Angel wasted a 2-and-0 pitch, bouncing out to third base and stranding three runners.
Buckle down: Holland's recent transformation was evident in the first inning when he worked around a Mike Trout leadoff single by getting Pujols and Torii Hunter to ground out softly. In another example of his mental advancement, he retired the side in order in the third after the Rangers scored three runs and needed a stop.
Up next: The Rangers will send Yu Darvish (15-9, 4.02 ERA) to the mound for Thursday's rubber match. The Angels will counter with trade deadline acquisition Zack Greinke (14-5, 3.56 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 9:05 p.m. on ESPN 103.3 FM and FSSW.
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.