Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Extra Bases: Moreland almost plays hero
By Todd Wills
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mitch Moreland almost played the role of hero for the Rangers on Tuesday night.
The Rangers need more of that from their first baseman.
Moreland's two-run home run gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning, a dramatic rally that saw the Rangers score all of their runs in the inning. A blown save by closer Joe Nathan turned Moreland's big night into a 5-4 loss, but still, going forward it could be an important development for the Rangers.
The Rangers had hit two home runs in the four games since the All-Star break coming into Tuesday's game. Both were from the only 20-plus home runs guys in the lineup, Nelson Cruz with 23 and Adrian Beltre with 22.
Moreland hit his second home run in six games Tuesday night, a straightaway shot to center field that traveled 428 feet according to ESPN Stats & Information. It gives him 14 home runs for the season.
For Moreland, 12 of his long balls came before he went on the disabled list after suffering a strained hamstring on June 5 in Boston. Moreland was locked in at the time, especially during a stretch when he hit seven home runs in 13 games. He hit a home run that June 5 night in Boston off of Jon Lester, his only one off a left-hander before Tuesday.
Moreland's bat had been slow to come around when he returned from the DL on June 21. He was batitng .184 with a home run and nine RBIs in the 26 games before Tuesday.
But he came alive in the sixth inning, crushing a curveball from Yankees reliever Boone Logan. It was Moreland's second home run in 104 at-bats against lefties. Moreland had been hitless in his last 12 at-bats against southpaws before Tuesday night's big hit.
For the Rangers, Moreland has answered the question of whether he can hit lefties. He had a stretch where he hit .359 against them from April 26 to July 5. He's everyday player.
"Until he went on the DL, he was handling lefties pretty well," Washington said. "Right there he did a good job of staying in there on a curveball or slider. It certainly was something we needed right there. It gave us a shot to win the game and we finally took the lead."
Moreland reminded everyone of the damage he can do and what exactly he means to a Rangers lineup looking for offense the last two months of the season.
If there's another current Rangers who can provide a power surge, it's Moreland.
Ogando encourages: Alexi Ogando only went five innings in his first start since June 5 at Boston, but Washington was encouraged by the right-hander's 78-pitch start. Ogando allowed three runs on six hits.
"He gave us five innings of stressful pitching," Washington said. "He had to battle to get through five. After the fifth inning, in which he appeared to get a little stronger, that's all we needed."
Rare loss: The Rangers lost for first time when leading after eight innings. They had been 51-0 coming into Tuesday night. Nathan has now saved 31 of 33 chances.
Beltre stays on RBI tear: Third baseman Adrian Beltre had an RBI double in the sixth inning to cut the Yankees' lead to 3-1. He has 16 RBIs in his last 16 games.