Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Athletics 1
By Eric Gilmore
Special to ESPNDallas.com
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers bounced back Tuesday night to beat the Oakland Athletics 5-1 in the second game of a three-game series and regain sole possession of first place in the American League West. With 24 games left to play, the Rangers (80-58) lead the A's (79-59) by one game.
Still streaking: Rangers rookie left-hander Martin Perez won his sixth straight start and improved to 9-3 for the season. He's the first Rangers rookie to win six straight starts and the first Texas pitcher to do so since Kenny Rogers won eight straight starts in 2005. His six-game winning streak is the longest by a Rangers pitcher this season. Perez allowed just one run on eight hits over seven innings. He struck out five and walked none. He threw 90 pitches, 60 for strikes. After spotting Oakland a 1-0 lead in the first, he pitched six straight shutout innings in his first start this season against the A's. Last year, he went 1-2 with a 9.90 ERA against Oakland.
Power surge: Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland hit his 22nd home run of the season -- an ongoing career high -- in the fourth inning, a solo shot off A's right-hander Bartolo Colon that tied the game 1-1. The home run was Moreland's second in his past three games and fifth in his past 11. In the eighth, Alex Rios crushed a solo shot off reliever Jesse Chavez, giving the Rangers a 5-1 lead. The homer was Rios' 14th of the season and second since coming to Texas from the Chicago White Sox in a trade. The Rangers had 13 hits, including two apiece by Moreland, Rios, Ian Kinsler, Jurickson Profar and Craig Gentry. Profar and Moreland doubled.
Rally time: After scoring a total of two runs in each of their past four games, the Rangers rallied for three runs in the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead. The rally started when Gentry hit a hard one-hopper that went in and out of Colon's glove for an error. Profar lined an RBI double off the right-field wall, then moved to third when Ian Kinsler singled sharply off of Colon's glove. Adrian Beltre grounded out to third, bringing Profar home, and catcher A.J. Pierzynski blooped an RBI single to center.
Bullpen watch: Right-hander Tanner Scheppers pitched a scoreless eighth, despite giving up a leadoff double to Josh Donaldson. He has pitched four scoreless innings in his past four games after allowing three runs on six hits in 1⅓ innings in his previous two appearances. Closer Joe Nathan allowed a pair of singles but pitched a scoreless ninth.
Timely move: Gentry made his 52st start of the season and 47th in center field, in place of Leonys Martin. Gentry entered the game with two hits in three career at-bats against Colon. And he singled in his first two at-bats Tuesday, then reached on Colon's error and scored in the fifth.
Defensive gem: Profar, starting again for injured shortstop Elvis Andrus, saved the Rangers a run in the bottom of the third. With two outs and Donaldson on second after a double, Yoenis Cespedes hit a ground ball to the hole and Profar made a diving stop. When Donaldson ran through third base coach Mike Gallego's stop sign, Profar gunned him out at home. Donaldson collided hard with Pierzynski, but the milestone-reaching catcher held onto the ball. He then tagged Donaldson hard again for good measure. Pierzynski has now been behind the plate 100 games a record-tying 13 seasons in a row.
Missed early opportunity: Gentry led off the game with a sharp single off Colon to left and moved to third when Kinsler lined a one-out single to center, snapping an 0-for-12 skid. After Beltre struck out, Pierzynski lined a shot to left center, but A's center fielder Chris Young made a nice running catch, reaching high to rob Pierzynski of extra bases and the Rangers of two runs.
No history lesson: Colon (14-6) entered the game with a 19-7 career mark against Texas and a chance to make history. He was tied with Bert Blyleven, Dennis Leonard and Jack Morris for most wins against the Rangers. Colon is still tied, lasting just five innings. He allowed eight hits and four runs -- just one earned -- while striking out three and walking none.
Up next: Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish (12-6, 2.73 ERA) will face A's righty Jarrod Parker (10-6, 3.59) in the finale of this three-game series Wednesday afternoon at the O.co Coliseum. First pitch is at 2:37 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540 AM.