Saturday, June 30, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 7, A's 2
By Clint Foster
ARLINGTON, Texas -- After trading solo home runs in the second inning, the Texas Rangers put together a scoring streak in the fifth to beat the Oakland A's, 7-2, and take the series. Martin Perez made his debut as a major league starter and got the win. A sellout crowd of 46,711 was in attendance, the 24th for sellout of the season to extend the record. Some thoughts on the Rangers' 50th win of the season:
What it means: The Rangers took the series with the A's, winning the first three in the four-game series with a chance to sweep Sunday. The Rangers improved their lead to 6.5-game over the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West, tying their biggest edge of the season. Texas also retains the best record in the majors, at 50-29, and is the first team to reach 50 wins this season.
Perez's first start: Perez looked good in his debut as a major league starter. He threw 103 pitches in 5 1/3 innings and showed good command of his breaking ball. He allowed six hits, including a home run, two earned runs, and one walk. He struck out five.
Riding the stream: The Jet Stream was in full effect Saturday night. Each team hit a solo shot to right field in the second inning. Chris Carter struck first for the A's and then Adrian Beltre followed for the Rangers. Nelson Cruz also gave a ball a ride to right field in the second, but it fell short just before the wall for a fly out.
Five in the fifth: The Rangers engineered another one-inning offensive explosion to go ahead against the A's in the fifth. Down 2-1, the Rangers put two men on base to start the inning. Yorvit Torrealba reached on a fielder's choice when Cruz was caught in a rundown between third and home. But Cruz made sure to make the rundown last long enough to get Mike Napoli to third and Torrealba to second. With runners in scoring position, Brandon Hicks made an impressive leaping grab to keep red-hot Craig Gentry from tying in the runners. It looked like the Rangers might leave the runners on base when Ian Kinsler stepped up to the plate with two outs. Kinsler, who had back-to-back strikeouts to start the game, came through with a two-RBI single. After Elvis Andrus reached base on an error, Josh Hamilton blasted a three-run homer to center field. Hamilton's fourth home run of the month capped off a five-run fifth that put the Rangers up 6-2.
Home run Hamilton: Hamilton's home run in the fifth inning was his 25th homer of the season, which matches his total from last season. He is the fastest player in Rangers history to reach 25 home runs in a season, hitting the mark in 79 games. He is just the fifth player in club history to hit 25 home runs in four or more seasons, joining the likes of Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira. Hamilton finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs.
Error message: The Rangers took full advantage of three key errors made by the A's, two of which came during the fifth-inning run. Both Andrus and Cruz reached base on errors which sustained the inning and gave the Rangers the chance to score as many runs as they did. Michael Young also reached second base on an error in the sixth inning, although he was not driven home.
Napoli's strikeout streak: Napoli struck out swinging in the sixth inning to extend his streak to 11 games with at least one strikeout. He had struck out 25 times in his previous 10 games, including three strikeouts against the A's on Friday night, two of which ended innings with runners in scoring position. Napoli finished 1-for-4.
Eighth-inning scare: With Michael Kirkman on the mound, the A's put two men on base with an error and a walk to lead off the eighth inning. Kirkman escaped with no runs thanks to two flyouts to center and a pop-up to second base. Kirkman and Yoshinori Tateyama saved the bullpen after Perez's exit, combining for the remaining 3 2/3 innings and allowing no runs.
Up next: The Rangers have a chance to complete the sweep when they close out their four-game home series with the A's on Sunday. RHP Yu Darvish will take the mound against LHP Travis Blackley at 6:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW. Some 2,500 reserved seats remain for Sunday's game.
Tue. at CWS: RHP Roy Oswalt (2-0, 4.26) vs. LHP Chris Sale (9-2, 2.27), 7:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.
Wed. at CWS: RHP Scott Feldman (2-6, 6.13) vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 4.50), 6:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW/ESPN.
Thu. at CWS: LHP Matt Harrison (11-3, 3.16) vs. LHP Jose Quintana (3-1, 2.19), 1:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.