Thursday, August 8, 2013
Rangers quickly make up ground in West
By Blair Angulo
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The West is wild again.
Don't bother adjusting the screen: It really took only nine days for the Texas Rangers to erase a six-game deficit in the American League West standings.
They began their ascent with power, via walk-off home runs and home-plate celebrations, and capped it with speed and pressure, feasting on the limping Los Angeles Angels by sweeping consecutive series while the Oakland Athletics struggled.
Following an overwhelming 10-3 victory Wednesday night at Angel Stadium, the Rangers returned to the top of the standings for the first time since July 1, albeit with a share of the lead.
"It's the place we're supposed to be in," said Adrian Beltre, who scored four times and had three hits Wednesday, including his 25th home run. "There's a long way to go so this doesn't mean anything, but it's good to be there.
“We played hungry and with urgency. We took advantage of a team that isn't playing well right now."
Texas certainly wasn't out of the race when it appeared the A's had a stranglehold of the division around the trade deadline. But the suspension of Nelson Cruz stripped the lineup of an important power source and, perhaps most notably, created an unnecessary distraction.
However, there were no ill effects during the three-game set here, as the Rangers tagged the Angels for 23 runs by raising dust on the basepaths.
"Winning in the division is something you have to do," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Leonys Martin, whose six stolen bases the last two nights helped Texas become the second team since 1920 to steal six or more in back-to-back games, was a nightmare. Elvis Andrus, who had three hits and three stolen bases Wednesday, resembled his old self in helping the Rangers beat the Angels for the seventh consecutive time and 10th out of 12 tries overall this season.
"Just trying to do my job, getting on base and doing what I have to so people behind me can bat with guys on base," Martin said.
The strategy doesn't figure to change this upcoming weekend in Houston against the Astros. Texas, which is 33-14 within the division, has seven more games against the Angels and six against Oakland. All but 18 of its remaining 47 games are against teams from the West.
"We're back in the hunt," Washington said. "Now we've got to continue to play good baseball."