Thursday, March 21, 2013
Batter up: New offense hitting on all cylinders
By Ron Matejko
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington received a first look at the lineup he will likely pencil in during the regular season. And he had to come away excited about the offensive firepower at his disposal.
Rangers outfielder David Murphy joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett live from spring training in Surprise, Ariz.
There has understandably been concern about the Rangers’ ability to maintain their explosiveness following the free-agent departures of Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli and the trade of Michael Young. Despite the losses, those fears may be unfounded, as a preview of Texas’ new lineup was offered.
"I've always been impressed with my guys," Washington said. "We're getting where we want to get. We're not there, yet, but we're getting there."
Texas wasted no time in showing its offensive capabilities, when Ian Kinsler led off its game with the Los Angeles Angels on double off the right-center wall. Elvis Andrus followed with an RBI single to score Kinsler, and Texas jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead.
It was the second inning, however, that the Rangers can use as Exhibit A regarding their ability to still put up plenty of runs. Texas sent 11 batters to the plate and saw all nine players in the lineup reach base before making an out in the inning. The stretch included a streak of eight consecutive hits. In all, Texas scored six runs, the most this spring in a single inning.
Perhaps this outburst shouldn't come as a surprise considering the club has posted three of its highest single-game hits totals in the past five games, while scoring eight runs twice in the past three games.
Angels starter Jerome Williams was the unfortunate sacrificial lamb on this night, as he allowed seven runs on 11 hits in just 1.1 innings. Williams retired only four of the 15 batters he faced.
Texas has become accustomed to having a high-powered offense and has ranked among the major league leaders in many categories. Last season, it ranked third in the majors with a .277 batting average (after ranking first in the previous two seasons). The Rangers also led the majors in runs (808) and tied for tops in hits (1,506).