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Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Game thoughts: Rangers fall, 6-5

By Richard Durrett

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It was an entertaining game, but the Angels got the key hits to grab the lead and then hang on for a 6-5 win. They close to 3 1/2 games behind the Rangers. We'll have some reaction from the clubhouse coming up.

* The Angels took advantage of their big-inning opportunity and the Rangers didn't. Texas loaded the bases with one no outs in the fifth. But Vladimir Guerrero hit into a fielder's choice (Elvis Andrus was thrown out at home, but a nice slide by Andrus prevented a double play). Josh Hamilton's ground ball became a force out at second that scored a run, and then Nelson Cruz hit a fly out. So despite a huge jam, the Angels allowed just one run.

Anaheim then came back in the sixth. After scoring a two-out run on a hard-hit ball that took a strange hop and went off Andrus' glove and away from him just far enough to score a run, Darren Oliver came in with two on and two out. The usually solid Oliver walked Howie Kendrick on four straight pitches to load the bases. Then, on a 3-2 count, Bobby Abreu hit a long single to right field to clear the bases and give the Angels a 6-3 lead.

The Angels got the big hits and the Rangers didn't. Texas had the tying run on second (as Cruz stole second while Justin Smoak was up) with no outs in the eighth and eventually loaded the bases with two outs, but couldn't score.

* Scott Feldman was given a lead three times and couldn't hold it. He was up 1-0 after the top of the first and the Angels got it back in the bottom of the inning. It was 2-1 Rangers in the third and then the Angels tied it up in the fourth. Texas went in front by a run in the fifth and the Angels tied it and eventually took the lead in the sixth. Feldman ended up getting five earned runs on his line (two of those were charged to him on the bases-clearing single by Abreu) on nine hits with three walks and two strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

* Good to see a standing ovation for Guerrero when he came up in the top of the first (just after Kinsler's homer). It was clear Guerrero was very appreciative of the response. And he gave the crowd one of his monster homers in the seventh, hitting one to straightaway center (just over the 400-foot sign) to close the gap to 6-5. The homer had some of the Angels fans cheering.

* Ian Kinsler had a good night at the plate. He hit his second homer in three games in the first and just his third homer of the season. Maybe it's a sign that Kinsler is beginning to find his power. He had a single in the third and then had a great at-bat in the fifth. He was down 0-2 in the count and fouled some pitches off, took some balls and ended up walking on a nine-pitch at-bat to load the bases with no outs. His one mistake: a bunt that was popped up in the seventh.

* Hamilton extended his hit streak to 22 games and set a club record for hits in a month with his 48th hit of June. Read more about that here.

* Give the Angels' defense some credit in the eighth. First baseman Mike Napoli stole an extra-base hit from Smoak that would have tied the score. Later, Torii Hunter sprinted to track down a deep fly ball off the bat of Julio Borbon that might have dropped for extra bases to tie the score.

* Cruz's rifle arm was on display in the third. A base hit by Hideki Matsui sent Abreu toward home. But Cruz charged the ball and fired a one-hop bullet to Matt Treanor, who tagged out Abreu. It kept the Rangers in front 2-1.

* The Rangers got aggressive on the bases in the fifth after Andrus and Michael Young singled. On an 0-2 count to Kinsler, Andrus and Young executed a double steal. It was a good time to go, as Joel Pineiro tried to throw one low and away to get Kinsler, and there was no throw.

* Alexi Ogando sure looked good. He threw 12 pitches (eight of them strikes) to three batters in the seventh and got a 1-2-3 inning. That kept it a one-run game.

* Smoak made a nice catch on a line drive in the eighth off the bat of Erick Aybar, reaching out to his right to make the play.