Extra Bases: Rangers bring power back
Texas hit home runs in two games in the four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays and won both games. The power surge helped the Rangers split the series and remain tied with the Rays for the top American League wild-card spot, a half-game ahead of the surging Cleveland Indians.
The Rangers swatted four home runs in Thursday's 8-2 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field. Texas arrived in St. Petersburg on Monday and lost 6-2 to the Rays, failing to hit a long ball to extend a stretch without a home run to 269 at-bats and 297 plate appearances.
Ian Kinsler hit a home run on the first pitch of the game Tuesday, and the Rangers cruised to a 7-1 victory. There were also homers from Elvis Andrus and Leonys Martin in that game.
The Rangers didn't homer in Wednesday's heartbreaking 4-3, 12-inning loss to the Rays, but they brought the power back in the third inning of Thursday's game.
Trailing 2-1 after Yu Darvish had given away a lead in the first inning, Mitch Moreland, in the lineup for defense, crushed a solo shot to the opposite field off lefty Matt Moore to tie the game.
The Rangers weren't done. Andrus hit his second homer of the series for a 3-2 lead. Alex Rios, who was 2-for-14 in the first three games of the series, cranked another solo shot for a 4-2 lead.
It gave the struggling Darvish a chance to settle down and get his first win in seven starts.
"The third inning was a big inning for us all the way around," Moreland said, "When we hit two more [home runs] after that. Three home runs in the inning, that definitely swung the momentum in our favor."
Andrus, batting .364 in his past 19 games coming into Thursday, continued his confident hitting in the series by going 6-for-16. He added the home run ball in this series, doubling his season total to four.
"I do feel better, for sure," Andrus said. "Every time you feel that you're swinging good -- like I'm doing right now, just having a plan -- whenever I know that it might be a fastball, I just let my hands go. I'm never looking for homers, but I hit that ball good."
Geovany Soto, who seems to be get an extra-base hit every time he starts, added a solo shot in the top of the ninth. He is 9-for-21 with two homers in his past seven games.
Moreland might be the big story to come out of the series at The Trop. He had an 0-for-22 skid going before hitting a double in three straight games and scoring three runs. He had three more hits on Thursday.
He started the game against lefty in Moore and had a performance reminiscent of a May streak during which he had nine home runs. Moreland has 23 homers for the season.
"You want to try to go up there and stay with your approach either way," Moreland said. "It doesn't matter who you're facing and get a good pitch. For the most part in this series, I was able to do that. It's something to build on and try to keep it rolling."
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.
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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.