Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 7, Angels 3
By Richard Durrett
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Rangers scored early runs and Derek Holland did a solid job on the mound to beat the Angels and take a six-game lead in the AL West. The win clinches at least a split in the series for the Rangers and guarantees they'll leave Anaheim no worse than when they entered (at four games up). Some quick thoughts:
* The 6-game lead is the largest for Texas this season in the AL West. The Rangers have won all five games on this road trip and 10 of the last 12 games.
* Holland threw a bunch of strikes, got ahead of hitters and threw hard in his 8 2/3-inning effort. He was in the mid 90s for most of the night and wasn't afraid to pitch to contact. He mixed his pitches and was able to locate his fastball all over the zone and elevated it when necessary to get some swings and misses. His breaking stuff was also in the zone. Once again, he was given some great run support. His team scored five runs in the first three innings. Holland has received four or more runs of support in 27 starts in his career, and he's 18-2 in those starts.
* Holland did allow some baserunners, but pitched out of jams. The double play helped as he got one to end the first and second innings.
* Texas has scored at least seven runs in each of the five games of this road trip. The Rangers came into the game batting .300 on this trip before Tuesday's game.
* Michael Young continues to make his case for Rangers MVP (and maybe to be in the discussion for AL MVP, though he's probably a notch behind the top candidates). He came up with runners at second and third and one out in the first and delivered a single to center on a 3-2 curveball. The two-run single and a sacrifice fly in the sixth gives Young a team-high 85 RBIs. That single put him at .380 with runners in scoring position this season. He was tied for third in the AL in batting average with runners in scoring position coming into the game.
* Josh Hamilton had a big night. He doubled in the first and then homered to the opposite field in the third. Hamilton put an easy swing on first-pitch curveball and got results. It was his 15th homer of the season and just his second homer in the last 26 games. Hamilton was batting .211 on the trip before Tuesday's game.
* Hamilton came out of the game after his at-bat in the eighth. He did not run hard to first base on a ground ball. The Rangers said he was day-to-day with back spasms.
* Once again, the Angels had to use their bullpen earlier than expected. On Monday, it was a groin injury that forced starter Garrett Richards out in the first inning (he went on the DL on Tuesday). Tuesday, it was the Rangers offense that forced Tyler Chatwood off the mound in the third. The Rangers went through the entire order twice in the first three innings. They scored five runs off Chatwood, and he was out with no outs in the third. The fact that the Angels have used their bullpen a lot the first two games of the series could help the Rangers the next two nights.
* The Angels made some bad baserunning decisions to kill a rally in the third. Peter Bourjos tried to go to third on a ball that got away briefly from Mitch Moreland. But Moreland threw a missile to Young, who applied the tag. That eliminated a runner from scoring position and allowed the Rangers to escape a jam of runners at second and third with no outs with just one run scored.
* Moreland also had a productive at-bat in the third. With runners at second and third, he hit a single up the middle. It came one night after he was 3-for-4 at Angel Stadium. He ended up with three hits after getting three on Monday.
* Elvis Andrus was caught stealing in the fourth on a pitchout by the Angels. It was the seventh time in 38 chances that Andrus was caught. The very next half-inning, Andrus made a great defensive play, backhanding a grounder by Bobby Abreu in the hole and then spinning and jumping a one-hop throw to Moreland. Andrus had another highlight-reel play in the seventh, snagging a hard grounder and flipping to second from a sitting position on the outfield grass.
* Neftali Feliz came in to get the final out and close the game down.