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Saturday, April 2, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 12, Sox 5

By Richard Durrett

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers just keep pounding away, beating the Boston Red Sox for the second straight day, meaning they will win this first series no matter what happens Sunday. They hit four more homers on Saturday and have seven to start the season. Some quick thoughts (more to come from clubhouse later):

* The big inning was the fourth. The Rangers scored six runs, all with two outs. Of note:

-- Yorvit Torrealba doubled with two out and no one on and scored on Julio Borbon's triple. It was good to see Borbon get an important hit (gave the Rangers the lead) after his error on Opening Day. He later got a single by using his speed on a ground ball in the infield.

-- Ian Kinsler walked and bothered John Lackey at first base. Lackey appeared distracted and going with the low leg kick, didn't look comfortable. It might have impacted how he pitched to Elvis Andrus, who doubled to center.

-- The Red Sox then decided to deal with former teammate Adrian Beltre instead of Josh Hamilton. So they intentionally walked Hamilton and pitched to Beltre, who blasted a 1-0 pitch to center for a grand slam. That's why Beltre is so critical for this team. He has to protect Hamilton and make opposing teams pay for pitching around him. Those kinds of hits are going to really help the 2010 AL MVP over the course of the season. The Beltre grand slam was the first one hit by a Ranger at home since September 2009. The club didn't hit one in Arlington last year.

* Kinsler in the leadoff spot sure looks good so far. He's led off two consecutive games with homers and now has 15 career leadoff homers, a club record. Kinsler was moved to the leadoff spot (again) because of his versatility. He has power, the ability to work a pitcher and use his speed. He's opted for power to start the game two straight games. But he went after the second pitch on Friday and hit a 3-1 pitch for a homer on Saturday.

* Colby Lewis wasn't at his best on Saturday, but he pushed through it and managed to go six innings. He just didn't have his command at times. That was especially evident in the second and fourth innings. He threw a 3-1 pitch high to David Ortiz in the second and Ortiz slammed it for his second homer in as many nights. He walked J.D. Drew after the homer and settled down briefly after that. But issues happened again in the fourth. He was up to 71 pitches before he even got an out in the inning. His offense gave him a big lead and he fought through it.

* Perhaps that fourth inning was the key as Lewis gave up just one run in the fourth with runners at second and third and no outs and then the offense went to work after that. Give Mike Maddux credit. He came out twice to talk to Lewis -- in the second and fourth -- and both times calmed him down and Lewis got outs. Lewis got through the fifth and sixth just fine. Part of a winning team is the ability of starters to give innings and game it up when they aren't at their best Lewis did that. (In fact, the box score shows a quality start for him and a win).

* Maybe the Rangers were paying Lewis back for all the games last year in which he didn't get any run support?

* A good game for catcher Yorvit Torrealba. He worked Dan Wheeler for an eight-pitch at-bat and then hit a 3-2 pitch over the wall in center for a homer. That made it 11-3. he had two hits in the game (both extra-base hits).

* Nice third inning for the Rangers. Kinsler continued his hot start with a double off the wall in right-center. Elvis Andrus followed up with a nice triple to right field. Andrus raced around the bases and slid into third easily. That tied the score. Josh Hamilton reminded everyone that he can do so many things besides crush the ball. A soft hit to center scored Andrus in that third inning with the go-ahead run (Rangers turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead in that inning).

* Hamilton then stole second with a nifty move. The throw was there in plenty of time, but Hamilton slid as far out toward the outfield as he could and got his hand on the bag before the tag was applied. He was called safe and replays seemed to support that call. It was another one of those moments where you just shake your head and smile at Hamilton's ability.

* Andrus was a homer shy of the cycle. He didn't hit a homer in 2010. He hit one in spring training.

* Nelson Cruz had a nice catch in the seventh inning to help out Mason Tobin, who made his Major League debut. Tobin gave up a two-run homer to Jacoby Ellsbury, and before Ellsbury could run all the bases, Maddux was out to the mound to calm his pitcher down. Some nerves were to be expected with debut. Good time to do it too, as it was 12-3 when he entered.

* The lopsided score also meant Pedro Strop got some work in for the first time in 2011. He put a runner on in the eighth but struck out former Ranger Jarrod Saltalamacchia with a 95 mph pitch to end the inning.

* Darren O'Day got to work the ninth, meaning the only reliever that hasn't seen action yet this season is long reliever Dave Bush.

* The Rangers got their AL championship rings before Saturday's game. Nolan Ryan was the first to receive one, as co-chairman of the board Ray Davis and Bob Simpson handed them out. The players got theirs going in alphabetical order, meaning Elvis Andrus led things off and Michael Young, to huge cheers from the sellout crowd, was last. Manager Ron Washington was handed his ring after all the players and, naturally, was warmly received by the crowd.