Thursday, July 21, 2011
Infield hits crush Rangers in big sixth
By Jeff Caplan
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels pounded out 12 hits Wednesday night, but two that didn't leave the infield during their six-run sixth inning made the difference between what was a quiet Texas Rangers clubhouse after a disappointing 9-8 loss and what could have been an excited group going for a franchise-tying 14th consecutive win here Thursday.
Rangers starter Derek Holland flirted with danger early, held on, but couldn't escape the sixth. Particularly damaging was a one-out infield single by 19-year-old outfielder Mike Trout, who dashed down the line to narrowly beat shortstop Elvis Andrus' throw to score Mark Trumbo from third. That cut the Rangers' 8-3 lead at the start of the inning to 8-5 with the top of the lineup coming up.
Tommy Hunter relieved Holland and was the victim of another infield hit that Andrus couldn't convert from deep in the hole with third baseman Alberto Callaspo digging down the line. Hunter had worked himself into trouble, giving up a two-out, RBI single to Bobby Abreu and then walking Vernon Wells to bring up Callaspo with runners on first and second. The second infield hit of the inning loaded the bases for the Howie Kendrick, the Angels' hottest hitter on the night.
"He [first-base umpire Jim Wolf] called him safe," said Hunter after his first appearance since July 9. "That's the thing, the inning's not over until the final out is made. It was a close play. It was a bang-bang play and he was safe."
Kendrick then made Hunter pay with his third hit of the game, lacing Hunter's 94 mph, first-pitch fastball down the middle of the plate for a two-run single to left that put the Angels in front 9-8. Hunter then got Trumbo, the 11th man to bat in the inning, but the damage was done in the seven-hit inning.
"The ones that hurt us were the two infield base hits. We get those and we're off the field with the lead," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "But Trout beat one out and then Callaspo beat one out and those were the two that were the damage. Not so much the other stuff. If we get those two right there, we're off the field."
* Andrus had a rough night all the way around. He was 0-for-4 at the plate and committed a throwing error in the eighth inning. It was the first error by a Rangers infielder since Adrian Beltre in the ninth inning on July 1 against Florida.