Rangers' lineup grinds in absence of stars
September, 20, 2012
By Blair Angulo / Special to ESPNDallas.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The absence of two AL MVP candidates did little to rattle the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.
They had a plan -- and executed it -- to earn a morale-boosting 6-2 victory against former teammate C.J. Wilson and the Los Angeles Angels. No Josh Hamilton? Big deal. No Adrian Beltre? Oh, well.
The Rangers chased Wilson in the third by not chasing.
"We know C.J. knows we're an aggressive bunch of guys," manager Ron Washington said. "We made him throw the ball in the strike zone. He stayed C.J. and tried to get us to go out of the strike zone."
Texas loaded the bases in the first inning, but Mike Napoli stranded the runners with a weak grounder on a 2-and-0 pitch. No runs scored but, still, Wilson labored through 28 pitches.
"I think it's our attitude, our commitment to each other," Washington said. "It's the effort we give. We believe no matter what lineup we put out there, we're able to compete."
Ian Kinsler led off the third with a single to center, and Elvis Andrus followed with a loud triple to right. Michael Young doubled to score Andrus, and Wilson appeared to be out of the woods. But Napoli learned from his unproductive first at-bat, waiting for a pitch to drive and doubling to left to plate Young.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia had seen enough and pulled his team's $77.5 million offseason acquisition, and the fans booed loudly. Wilson made only 66 pitches.
A lineup missing Hamilton (.287, 42 HR, 123 RBI) and Beltre (.316, 33 HR, 93 RBI) due to vision and intestinal issues, respectively, didn't lack punch.
"We have a strong lineup no matter who we send out there and they definitely showed it," said Derek Holland, who pitched seven strong innings to earn the win. "They battled well against C.J. It's tough when you lose those kind of guys (Hamilton and Beltre), but you've got to stay within yourself and not try to overdo anything just because you lost two guys."
Geovany Soto, catching because Napoli filled the designated hitter's spot in Beltre's absence, was one of the players to step up, belting a two-run blast that allowed Washington to breathe a sigh of relief in the eighth.
"I felt like I was having good at-bats," Soto said. "On a 2-and-0 count, I just wanted to put good wood on the ball. For a second there, I thought (Mike) Trout was going to jump up and get it. Luckily, I had enough."