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Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Rays 5, Rangers 4 (10)

By Richard Durrett



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Desmond Jennings hit a walkoff home run on the first pitch thrown to him by Mark Lowe in the 10th inning to give the Rays a 5-4 victory and a win in the series. Derek Holland pitched his third straight quality start (for the first time in his career) and the Rangers made a nice late comeback behind the bats of Ian Kinsler and Mike Napoli, but it wasn't enough. Some quick thoughts (more from the clubhouse later):

* Kinsler had two homers on Wednesday, including a tying homer with one out in the ninth. Both were solo shots to left and Kinsler now has seven homers in his last seven games. He has 28 homers and 86 RBIs. The 28 homers tie him with Nelson Cruz for tops on the team and he's second to Michael Young in RBIs.

* Kinsler has also scored 101 run this season, second-most in the AL (one ahead of Jacoby Ellsbury, but 25 behind Curtis Granderson). He's one run shy of his career-high, set in 2008.

* Holland started his game with a walk to Desmond Jennings in a 7-pitch at-bat. Back-to-back doubles by Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist drove in two runs. It appeared early that Holland didn't have a sharp curve ball and the Rays got some hits.

* But he certainly settled down. His fastball had good movement and velocity. It became a nice out pitch, coming in to lefties and getting righties to chase some high fastballs. He struck out the side in the fourth on third-strike fastballs. He got left-handed hitting Casey Kotchman swinging at one inside at 95 mph and then Kelly Shoppach watched one catch the strike zone at 96. Justin Ruggiano also watched a 4-seamer go past him to end the inning. Holland needed 14 pitches (9 strikes) to get the outs.

* At one point, Holland struck out six of seven batters, getting three in the fourth and then two to start the fifth and Ben Zobrist on a low fastball after pitching around Evan Longoria. Holland mixed in his slider and got the Rays swinging well out in front of it. He found a nice tempo too, speeding up a little bit between pitches after the first few innings once he got in a groove.

* Holland gave up a home run to Brandon Guyer, hitting .167 coming into the game, to put the Rays up 4-2 in the sixth. But he still managed to get through 6 2/3 innings. His outing ended with B.J. Upton hit a two-out dribbler down the third base line that stayed fair.

* This is the first time Holland has had three consecutive quality starts in his career. He gave up one run on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings on Aug. 26 to the Angels in a win and pitched seven shutout innings in a win over the Red Sox last Friday. On Wednesday, he gave up three earned runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. That's a big step toward the kind of consistency the Rangers want to see from him.

* Kinsler made a rare defensive mistake in the second, trying to throw B.J. Upton out on a tough ball. The throw was wide and rolled to the Rays dugout, allowing a run to score to make it 3-0.

* Adrian Beltre extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single just inside the right-field line in the fourth.

* Bad defense by the Rays got the Rangers on the board in the fourth. David Murphy hit what looked like a double play ground ball to end the inning, but shortstop Sean Rodriguez couldn't get a handle on the ball coming out of his glove and everyone was safe as a run scored. The Rangers got runners to second and third with two outs, but Craig Gentry lined out to center to end the frame.

* Mike Napoli hit his 24th homer of the season, this one in the eighth inning to cut the deficit to 4-3. He also has 62 RBIs as well despite playing in 97 of the club's 144 games. he's third on the team in homers.

* The Rangers got some relievers in the game that needed work. Koji Uehara got the final out of the seventh, retiring Evan Longoria on a ground ball. Mike Adams came in and got a 1-2-3 eighth.

* Once the Rangers tied the score, Darren Oliver was brought in for the ninth and got through it.

* A total of 35,931 fans came to see the Rangers-Rays series (for all three games combined). The Rangers are averaging 35,787 fans this season. Even Senior Prom for Senior Citizens didn't increase attendance on Wednesday (11,190 came to the Trop on Wednesday).