Monday, June 20, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 8, Astros 3
By Randy Jennings
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Returning home after a disappointing 3-7 road trip, the Rangers jumped on Houston for seven runs in the first three innings and coasted to an 8-3 victory Monday night with 40,205 in attendance at Rangers Ballpark.
With its lead in the AL West trimmed to a half game, the Rangers climbed all over a Houston team that entered with the worst record in the major leagues.
The win allowed the Rangers to take a 1-0 lead in the Lone Star Series, one Texas has won four straight seasons. The Rangers have now beaten their state rival in 11 of the last 13 meetings.
*Derek Holland has had ERA issues at Rangers Ballpark this season (6.68) and in his career (5.92), but the 24-year-old left-hander was sharp Monday.
In 7 1/3 innings, Holland (6-2), held Houston to six hits and three runs. He walked three and struck out four.
Pitching with a big lead, often a problem for a young pitcher, was not an issue.
Holland had just one bad inning, the fourth, in which Houston scored both of its runs. Michael Bourn dropped a bunt single and Jeff Keppinger doubled down the right-field line. Carols Lee’s sacrifice fly and a Jason Michaels single accounted for the runs
*Nobody hits better in interleague games than Josh Hamilton.
At least, that’s what the numbers say.
The Rangers left fielder entered Monday’s game with the best all-time interleague batting average (minimum 200 at-bats) of .374 and did nothing to hurt that average, going 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs.
Hamilton’s interleague batting average of .374 coming into Monday’s game was 10 points better than No. 2 Dustin Pedroia.
Since 2010, Hamilton in interleague games was batting .485 with five homers and 18 RBIs before tonight.
*Mitch Moreland gave the Rangers a reason to touch off the fireworks in the eighth inning when he hit his ninth home run of the season, a mammoth 455-foot blast, the second-longest at Rangers Ballpark this season, tied for eighth for all-time distance at the stadium. Nelson Cruz has the longest this season at 459 feet.
*Center fielder Craig Gentry narrowly missed colliding with right fielder Nelson Cruz on Carlos Lee’s sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. Gentry, on the dead run, swerved behind Cruz at the last moment. Cruz stood his ground and made the catch.
*The speedy Gentry stole second and third base in the second inning. His steal of second was made more difficult because he appeared to be picked off first, but beat the throw of first baseman Brett Wallace to second.
Gentry finished with a career-high three hits, scored a run and drove in one.
*Ian Kinsler provided the Rangers’ defensive play of the night when he raced into right field to chase down Jason Bourgeois’ pop-up. In one motion, Kinsler made a spinning throw to first base to double up Carlos Corporan, who must have thought the ball was going to fall in for a hit.
*Elvis Andrus ended the game with a nice play, ranging behind second to throw out pinch hitter Angel Sanchez.
*Holland executed a last second head bob to avoid the barrel end of Brett Wallace’s broken bat in the second inning. Holland’s attention was on the baseball, which was in a similar path with the bat. The ball rolled to shortstop Elvis Andrus and he turned it into an easy out at first.
Holland alertly speared a line drive off the bat Chris Johnson, spoiling his bid for a leadoff single in the seventh inning.
*The Rangers made Houston pay dearly for third baseman Chris Johnson’s error which led to three runs, only one of which was earned. Johnson dropped Ian Kinsler’s ground ball to lead off the Rangers’ first and by the time he retrieved the ball, he had no play. Singles by Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre produced a run, Michael Young doubled out of the diving grasp of Michael Bourn for a second run and Nelson Cruz added a sacrifice fly.