Monday, June 24, 2013
Extra Bases: Offense gets its groove back
By Todd Wills
The Rangers changed the momentum of their season in seven days against two division leaders, putting the capper on the shift with a 2-1 victory over St. Louis in a game that ended early Monday morning.
A revived offense led the way.
The Rangers trailed in all six victories over Oakland and St. Louis. Yes, the pitching kept them in games. But it was clutch hitting that won the day.
Look at Sunday night's win against the Cardinals. Rookie starter Nick Tepesch gave up the lead in the bottom of the sixth. The Rangers produced a pair of two-out hits, the first off Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, to take the lead back in the top of the seventh.
Leonys Martin's hard fought at-bat against Wainwright produced a line drive single to tie the game. Ian Kinsler's line drive single gave the Rangers the lead, the second time this week Kinsler has produced a go-ahead hit late in the game.
Nelson Cruz. A.J. Pierzynski. Elvis Andrus. They all had game-tying or tie-breaking hits during the Rangers' 6-1 week that has them back in first place in the American League West headed into Tueday's series opener against the New York Yankees.
The Rangers went 9-11 during their 20-games-in-20-day stretch, on the surface not a great record. But considering a six-game losing streak and key injuries, it's remarkable.
Other Rangers' notes for Monday:
1. Tepesch rebounds: Nick Tepesch has impressed his teammates with his poise and presence on the mound. What stood out Sunday night was the way he competed. Going up against 10-game winner Adam Wainwright, Tepesch kept the Rangers in the game, something not even Yu Darvish has done lately when the opposing pitcher has shut down the offense. Tepesch kept the game scoreless through five innings, and even though Matt Carpenter's home run gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, it came with no one on base, keeping the Rangers within a swing of tying the game.
2. Nathan grinds: Closer Joe Nathan saved his fourth consecutive game in four days Sunday night, with the assist of a game-ending double play started by Adrian Beltre's spectacular catch on a line drive. Nathan clearly showed the effects of all the work. He wasn't as sharp as Saturday night when he worked a perfect ninth. But as always, Nathan got the job done to record his 25th save.
3. Up next: The Rangers start a three-game series at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. The pitching matchups are: Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish (7-3, 2.84 ERA) against Hiroki Kuroda (7-5, 2.78) on Tuesday at 6:05 p.m.; right-hander Justin Grimm (6-5, 5.57) against Andy Pettitte (5-5, 4.20) at 6:05 p.m.; and left-hander Derek Holland (5-4) against right-hander Phil Hughes (3-6, 5.09) at 12:05 p.m. All games are on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN-FM 103.3 and 1540-AM.