PHOENIX -- The Texas Rangers (9-8-2) returned from an off day to win their second in a row, knocking off the Oakland A's (8-9), 6-2, on Thursday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
What this means: Texas moves above the .500 mark for the first time this spring -- an impressive feat after the team opened the spring with an 0-5-1 record.
Fast start: The two first-inning runs Texas scored were officially listed as unearned but that is in baseball terms only. Sacrifice flies drove in each run after aggressive baserunning put the first two batters of the game in scoring position. Ian Kinsler reached on a throwing error and capitalized by going from first to third on a ground ball to left by Elvis Andrus. His play forced a throw to third, which was bobbled, and an astute Andrus moved up to second. With two men in scoring position and no one out, the two deep fly balls that followed by Lance Berkman and Adrian Beltre scored the pair for Texas, giving the Rangers an early 2-0 lead.
Coming around: Adrian Beltre may have gone hitless Thursday, but he didn't go quietly. In his first at bat, Beltre drove a ball deep to the left-field gap only to see it tracked down on a running catch just before the warning track. The sacrifice fly drove in a run. He smoked a line drive toward third base in his second at bat, but Josh Donaldson showed good height in snaring it out of the air. The Rangers' clean-up hitter flew out to the warning track in his final bat. Beltre didn't play in the WBC in part to get his swing right. It looked good Thursday.
Nate the great: Nate Robertson pitched his seventh scoreless inning of the spring but almost got dinged up while doing so. With one out in the sixth and a runner at first, a line drive was hit back at the box. Robertson took a half-defensive, half-protective move to knock the ball down in front of him. Despite the close call, he kept his wits and threw the ball to second, leading to an inning-ending double play.
Excellent encore: Andrus has his second strong game since returning from playing in the World Baseball Classic, chipping in a single and double with an RBI. He is 3-for-5 since rejoining the Rangers.
Baker still white hot: Jeff Baker entered the game in the sixth inning and continued his amazing spring at the plate. He singled in his first at-bat, raising his average to a remarkable .546. He entered the game leading the Cactus League in batting average and OBP. If the Rangers don't have room for the veteran utility man on their regular-season roster, it is hard to imagine someone wouldn't give him a shot after his spring performance.
Slowly but surely: Kinsler is gradually coming out of his early spring funk. He went 1-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. The Rangers second baseman has reached base in eight out of the last 10 and has hits in three straight. He is yet to completely break out, but he is hitting the ball harder and is showing signs of coming around at the plate.
What's next?: Texas travels to Scottsdale Stadium to take on the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants at 3:05 p.m. CT. RHP Derek Lowe (0-0, 0.00) will make his Texas Rangers debut. RHP Matt Cain (1-2, 5.40) is the scheduled starter for the Giants.