Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Game thoughts: Nine straight wins
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers earned their ninth consecutive victory Tuesday, beating the Pirates 6-3. The Rangers were behind 2-0 in the fourth, but took the lead on a Julio Borbon homer and never looked back. Some game thoughts (we'll have Ranger Reax shortly):
* Rangers tied their second-longest winning streak ever at nine games. The longest streak is 14 wins in 1991. But they've had three nine-game winning streaks, the latest May 20-31, 2005. If they win tomorrow, it will be only the second-ever double-digit winning streak in franchise history. At worst, the Rangers will remain 3.5 games ahead of the Angels in the AL West.
* OF Julio Borbon continued to hit the ball well. He hit a 387-foot homer to right field with two outs and two on in the fifth to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead. Borbon was 12-for-31 on the road trip, hitting his first homer of the season then. He now has his second. Lost in Josh Hamilton's crazy good June is that Borbon is doing very well this month as well. He came into the game with a .426 average in the month, second only to Hamilton. Borbon has really bolstered the bottom of the order. I asked manager Ron Washington about Borbon before the game and he talked about Borbon's confidence. You can read that here.
* Great defense by the Rangers in the sixth. Lastings Milledge hit a double to left field and Ryan Doumit tried to score from first. Hamilton got the ball quickly in the corner and threw a bullet to Elvis Andrus, who turned and made a perfect throw to catcher Matt Treanor, who absorbed a hit and tagged the runner out. He was out easily. The Pirates added a run in the inning to close the gap to one run, but the play helped contain things. Andrus made some great defensive plays as well, grabbing one grounder behind the second-base bag and making a full turn to get the runner and also a diving stab on a hard-hit liner in the seventh.
* Hamilton extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a double to left-center in the fifth and then added a homer in the sixth. It looked like Pittsburgh centerfielder Andrew McCutchen thought the double was going out, but it hit the dirt of the warning track instead. He knew the homer was out, turning and watching it go over the wall in right-center. It was his 17th homer of the season. He should have won player of the week honors last week, but may be on his way this week.
* RHP Tommy Hunter got a quality start, going six innings and allowing three runs (two earned) with six strikeouts and no walks. But he actually wasn't at his best. He threw 88 pitches and 66 of them were strikes, but some were up in the zone, helping the Pirates to nine hits. The Rangers' defense was well positioned, helping him turn some hard-hit balls into outs. But give Hunter credit: He limited the damage and left with the Rangers leading the game.
* RF Nelson Cruz looked just fine returning from the disabled list after straining his left hamstring. He ran hard toward the wall and made a nice running catch to end the second inning and didn't show any signs of hesitation as he did so. He also had a big sacrifice fly in the eighth to extend the Rangers' lead to 6-3.
* 1B Justin Smoak made a bad throw to home plate in the fourth inning, allowing Pedro Alvarez to score the second run of the game for the Pirates. Smoak charged a ball down the first-base line and tried to throw on the run and one-hopped it to Treanor.
* Michael Young, playing at home for the first time since becoming the Rangers' all-time hits leader, hit a home run to the opposite field in the fourth for the first hit and run of the game for Texas. The club hung a large banner in right-center field (on the office building) that read: Congratulations Michael, Texas Rangers All-Time Hits Leader.
* Treanor got a big hand for a ball he didn't catch. A bunt attempt in the fourth inning was popped up foul and Treanor dove head first between home plate and the Rangers' dugout to try to get it, but couldn't come up with it. The effort netted him a nice ovation.
* Smoak outdueled a fan for a foul ball in the fifth. He caught a ball over the first row of seats, getting his glove higher than a fan (wearing a Just Do It shirt, ironically) to make the play.
* Andrus showed his speed, going from first to third on an errant pickoff throw that went into foul territory down the right-field line in the fifth.
* Neftali Feliz got the save after Darren Oliver pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Hunter.