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Sunday, April 22, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Tigers 2 (11)

By Richard Durrett

DETROIT -- The Rangers won their fifth consecutive series to start the season, beating the Tigers 3-2 in 11 innings. Robbie Ross got the win (his third of the road trip) and Joe Nathan got the save. They finish the road trip at 8-1. Some thoughts:

What it means: It's the first time since 1989 that the Rangers have won five straight series to start the season. The Rangers beat Detroit, Toronto, at Milwaukee, at Detroit and Milwaukee that season. Texas will stay at least 5.5 games up in the AL West.

Timely squeeze: With the bases loaded and no outs in the 11th, manager Ron Washington called the suicide squeeze with Alberto Gonzalez at the plate. Gonzalez executed it and Nelson Cruz scored the go-ahead run. The Tigers argued that the ball hit off Gonzalez's body and replays appear to show it grazed his leg. That means it would have been a dead ball. But after home plate umpire Tim Welke had a conference, the call stood and the Rangers had the lead. It was yet another gutsy call by Washington. And it worked. The Rangers got the lead off Thad Weber, making his major league debut.

PODCAST
Manager Ron Washington shares his thoughts after the Rangers' 3-2, 11-inning win against the Tigers.

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Dirt balls: The Rangers' aggressive play on the bases paid dividends in the eighth. With Texas down 2-1, Elvis Andrus scampered from first to second on a ball in the dirt. That forced a rushed throw from catcher Alex Avila, who threw it into center field, allowing Andrus to get to third with one out. Josh Hamilton then hit fly ball to right field to score Andrus and tie the game. It showed the versatility of the Rangers' offense.

Quality start: Once again, a Rangers starter pitched deep in the game. Colby Lewis went seven innings and gave up two runs on seven hits with no walks and two strikeouts. It was his fourth quality start of the season and the 13th for the Rangers, which leads the majors. Lewis got a no-decision. He made key pitches when he needed to, holding the Tigers to 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

No walks: Lewis has just one walk all season and now has gone 25 2/3 innings without a walk, the longest span for any Rangers starter since Cliff Lee didn't walk anyone in 24 1/3 innings from July 22 to Aug. 1, 2010, a span of three starts. The club record is 29 1/3 innings by John Matlack in six games (four starts) from June 24 to July 22, 1978.

Wild pitch: Lewis' pitch in the dirt got away from catcher Yorvit Torrealba as he tried to block it, allowing Ramon Santiago to score from third in the third inning. Santiago had led off with a triple but was still standing there with two outs before the wild pitch.

Boesch strikes again: Brennan Boesch hit his third home run in 18 at-bats off Lewis and did it despite striking out his first two plate appearances in the game. Boesch hit one 10 rows up in right field in the sixth to give the Tigers a one-run lead.

Hamilton homers: Josh Hamilton belted his seventh homer of the season, hitting a 1-2 fastball out to right field. Hamilton's seven homers leads the AL (Mike Napoli and Curtis Granderson had six when the day started). It was Hamilton's fifth homer on the road trip.

Wasted chance: Hamilton got his third hit of the game in the top of the sixth and while he was at second base, Tigers catcher Avila threw the ball back to the mound and over the head of pitcher Drew Smyly. Hamilton alertly went to third, putting him there with one out and Cruz at the plate. But Cruz struck out looking and Napoli flew out to center. It was a chance to take the lead in a tie game and the Rangers weren't able to do it.

Glove work: Gonzalez, filling in for Adrian Beltre who is out with the strained left hamstring, did a pretty good Beltre imitation in the first, backhanding a hard bouncer behind the bag and making a long throw to first. Napoli did a nice job of jumping to get the high throw and then still extending his foot to the bag to get the out.

Hit streak: Michael Young extended his hit streak to 10 games, meaning he had at least one hit in every game in the nine-game road trip. Young was on fire away from Arlington the past 10 days, going 15-for-30 with two doubles, a homer and five RBIs. Young has had a hit streak of 10 or more games 25 times in his career.

Nice throw: Cruz played Miguel Cabrera's long third-inning single to right-field off the wall well, getting to it as it bounced off the wall and then firing a strike to second base. Cruz's throw hit Andrus on the fly at second base, where he tagged Cabrera to get the out of the inning.

Moreland struggles at plate, good in field: Mitch Moreland, batting .161 coming into the game, pinch-hit with the bases loaded and no outs in the 11th with the Rangers up 3-2. Moreland grounded into a 5-2-3 double play, hurting Texas' chances at some insurance runs. Moreland went in to right field and caught the first out of the bottom of the 11th and then he made a nice catch in foul ground on Prince Fielder's long foul ball to end the game.

Tidbits: Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Sunday. He's from Highland Park, Texas. ... David Murphy tried to steal second base with two outs in the seventh in an effort to get into scoring position and was thrown out. It meant that Ian Kinsler led off the eighth. ... Brandon Snyder pinch hit in the ninth for Murphy and stayed in to play LF. ... The Rangers drew seven walks on Sunday.

Up next: Texas faces the New York Yankees at 6:05 p.m. on Monday. The pregame ceremony for Pudge Rodriguez starts at 5:35 p.m. at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for the game.