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 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.