Thursday, April 25, 2013
Killer 4th: Most road-game runs since 2007
By Blair Angulo
Special to ESPNDallas.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers' best offensive inning of the young season centered around patience.
That is, until Nelson Cruz took the aggressive route.
The Rangers sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth inning of Wednesday night's 11-3, series-clinching victory against the Los Angeles Angels. It was the most plate appearances in a frame since last April. They managed nine runs, the most in a road-game inning since 2007.
And it began with restraint, as Adrian Beltre opened the frame by drawing his first of two walks.
"How weird is that?" Beltre asked reporters. "Two walks? Is that a record? Two walks in an inning? I think for me it is."
Cruz followed with a single, sparking a sequence that proved to be the turning point against rookie left-hander Michael Roth, the Angels' ninth-round selection in last year's amateur draft whose only other start this season came at Double-A Arkansas.
In all, there were five walks and five base hits in the fourth. Cruz sent fans to the exits with a broken-bat homer to left-center field that made it 9-0.
"When he gets through the baseball, it doesn't matter if the bat holds together or not," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He showed you what his strength is all about."
Cruz showed smarts, as well.
"When you see a guy struggling to find the strike zone, sometimes it's good to be aggressive," Beltre said. "Sometimes you get a good pitch to hit, and [Cruz] did. You assume he's going to throw a fastball, and he did."
The Rangers enjoyed very productive at-bats with runners in scoring position, going 5-for-9 in those situations one night after a weak 1-for-13 effort.
The lead grew to 11-0 by the time Yu Darvish, who tossed six scoreless innings, left the game. A light drizzle blanketed Angel Stadium in the seventh, but it had begun to pour long before then as the Rangers won yet another series.
"Adrian got on base, Nelson got him to third and it kind of snowballed from there," said A.J. Pierzynski, who singled and walked in the fourth. "Adrian had another good at-bat later, and it culminated with Nelson hitting a big home run. It was big."
Beltre smiled when asked if he had ever hit a broken-bat blast like Cruz did.
"I'm not that strong," he said.