Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Rapid Reax: Rangers sweep, now 6-0
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers completed a 6-0 homestand and a sweep of the Mariners with a 7-3 win over Seattle. Texas broke the tie late and then got some insurance runs. It wasn't a crisp game by any means, but it was a win for the Rangers against the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner.
* The Rangers are 6-0 and need one win to tie the longest winning streak to start a season in franchise history (the 1996 Rangers were 7-0 with three wins each over Boston and the Yankees and one against the White Sox). They also started 6-0 in 1979. Texas heads to Baltimore for a weekend series with the Orioles. The last team to win more than five games to start a season were the 2003 Royals (9-0) and the 2003 Giants (7-0).
* After some defensive struggles early, the Rangers made the plays in the field they needed late in the game to preserve the lead. Adrian Beltre was at the center of it. He made a ridiculous play in the eighth, backhanding a ball down the line, turning and throwing to first. Mitch Moreland deserves a bunch of credit, too, scooping the hop and keeping his foot on the bag to get the speedy Milton Bradley. It was the best play of the season for the Rangers' infield, if you ask me.
That wasn't all for Beltre, who also caught a rocket shot off the bat of Michael Saunders. Beltre scampered to his left and caught it in the air just above his shoe tops. Most third baseman don't get that ball.
* We talk about offense, defense and pitching all the time here. But don't forget about speed. It helped the Rangers on Wednesday. David Murphy led the way. His baserunning sometimes goes unnoticed, but he's very smart out there. He waited for the right time and stole second base off Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in the seventh. One pitch later, Moreland hit a clutch double, the first extra-base hit of the game for Texas (if you can believe that), to break a 3-3 tie. It was also just Moreland's second hit in 10 at-bats against Hernandez.
* Ian Kinsler put on another impressive performance. He started the game with a 10-pitch walk, setting the tone for the Rangers' approach against Hernandez. The Rangers worked the Mariners' ace for 24 pitches in that first inning and drew two walks. Kinsler then got on base after an error by second baseman Jack Wilson in the second inning and helped the Rangers add to the lead with a hard slide into second base to help force a bad throw from Wilson on a double-play attempt.
* C.J. Wilson did exactly what the club needs: He kept his team in the game against the opposing ace. Wilson ended up going seven innings and giving up three runs (two earned) with two walks and two strikeouts. He got the win when his team scored in the seventh to take the lead. Wilson threw plenty of curves Wednesday as he figured out what was working.
* Early on, the Rangers did have some defensive issues. Elvis Andrus missed a ball he usually gets when he jumped and Jack Wilson's liner went off his glove. That allowed an unearned run to score for the Mariners. Then, in the fifth, Kinsler and Andrus took too long to turn a double play. It seemed like Andrus just took half a beat longer than normal to make the throw to first after stepping on the bag, and that allowed Michael Saunders to beat the throw.
* Nelson Cruz came into today's game hitting .306 off Hernandez with three homers and four RBIs in 36 at-bats. But Hernandez had him baffled, striking him out in the second and third innings. On his at-bat in the third, Cruz took swings at three straight pitches and missed all of them. Cruz ended up 0-for-3 off Hernandez.
* But once the bullpen came in, Cruz and his boomstick went to work. Cruz doubled off Brandon League to score two insurance runs in the eighth. It was the club's 32nd extra-base hit of the game and the fifth for Cruz.
* Hernandez came into the game with a 5-6 record and a 4.14 ERA in 14 career starts at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, so the Rangers aren't intimidated by him at home.
* Murphy made a nice catch on a windy day on a hard-hit ball by Brendan Ryan. Murphy made the catch just in front of the left-center wall.
* Wilson is one of the best fielders at his position, and he showed it again Wednesday. Wilson made a nice play on Adam Moore's bouncer between the mound and the baseline and then gloved a hard grounder from Chone Figgins and threw to first to end the seventh.
* Darren O'Day came in to pitch the ninth for the Rangers and got all three hitters he faced.
* One thing the Rangers will do in Baltimore: Hit in the ninth. Texas, of course, didn't have to do that this opening homestand.