The Texas Rangers Offense Puts up 34 Runs to Sweep the Blue Jays Memorial Day Weekend
BY: Dic Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rangers overwhelmed Toronto this weekend with 34 runs in the three game series, good enough to win all three and move the Ranger record to 30-18. Texas is now 10-5-1 in series played. The sweep was the third of the year for the Rangers, and this is the first time that Texas has been 12 games over .500 in 2012, failing to win in the previous five times the team was 11 games over .500. Texas finished with a 4-2 record for the week and has a 12-6 record against the American League East.
The Rangers completed the sweep Sunday afternoon despite a sub-par start from Yu Darvish. Much like his start last Monday, Darvish simply could not find the plate. He missed with the first six pitches of the game, and struggled to complete five innings with 93 pitches, 54 (58%) of which were strikes. He gave up three runs; all earned, on seven hits, walked three, and struck out three. His ERA is now 3.25.
The Texas offense bailed him out though. They took charge early with a seven-spot in the second inning. It was the biggest scoring inning at home for Texas this year, though they have twice tallied eight in an inning on the road. Michael Young has been struggling at the plate, but he had two hits in that inning en route to a three-hit game. Texas added two more in the third, and three more in the seventh for a 12-6 final. Home runs came from Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli. Napoli’s was his first round tripper in more than a month. The offensive explosion gifted Darvish to his seventh win; his record is now 7-2.
The series began Friday night with a game similar to Sunday’s. The Rangers struck for six first inning runs knocking Toronto’s starting pitcher Brendan Morrow out without completing the inning. Ian Kinsler started it with a walk on 13 pitches, which coincidentally was the total number of pitches Derek Holland needed to retire the Jays in the top of the first.
Texas added singletons in the second and third innings to extend the lead to 8-0, and the final was 14-3. Holland (4-3) was very good, pitching into the eighth inning, while allowing two earned runs, a performance that earned a win and lowered his ERA to 4.05. Holland arrived with a clean-cut look, as he had trimmed his long locks in anticipation of wedding pictures for his upcoming nuptials. Unfortunately, the horrible mustache remains.
Josh Hamilton hit his 19th home run, Yorvit Torrealba hit his first, and Nelson Cruz had the biggest offensive game of all, hitting his fifth with the bases loaded. Cruz was 4-5 and drove in eight runs. Only twice this year has an American League player driven in eight in a game. Hamilton with his four home run game in Baltimore is the other.
Saturday’s game was perhaps the most entertaining of the season. Texas again took charge with a couple of early runs for Colby Lewis in the first. The Jays finally cracked the scoreboard with two tying runs in the fifth, then knocked Lewis out in the sixth with two more runs to take a 4-2 lead. It was short-lived, as Texas came back with three in the bottom of the sixth to reclaim the lead at 5-4. It was an exciting three runs, as with two outs in the inning, Nelson Cruz, Yorvit Torrealba, and Mitch Moreland went back-to-back-to back with solo home runs, all of which were estimated at more than 400 feet. However, the Jays came right back in the seventh to tie the game at five with a run off Alexi Ogando, just the fourth he had allowed this year.
From that point, the Rangers continually got scoring opportunities they failed to cash in for a score. The Ranger batter leading off the inning reached base in all but the eighth over the final six innings. In the 13th inning, the Jays seemingly wrapped up the game when they plated two runs to take a 7-5 lead. Both were charged to Robbie Ross, and both were unearned thanks to a Nelson Cruz error.
Little did Ranger fans know the Rangers had Toronto right where they wanted them. The Rangers needed just three batters to wrap up the game. Ian Kinsler walked leading off the Ranger half of the 13th. He promptly scored when Elvis Andrus followed with a double. Josh Hamilton was the third batter of the inning, and he blasted a long fly ball onto the center field berm for the game winning home run, the third game ending home run in his career. This home run was his league leading 20th. His RBI total at 53 also leads the league.
The game was the Rangers’ longest of the year; both in innings played and time elapsed (4:38). It was also the first “walk-off” win of the year.
When the smoke cleared Sunday, the Rangers’ lead was 6.5 games (seven in the loss column) over the Angels, who have overtaken Oakland for second place in the West. Oakland is eight games behind, and Seattle is 10 games out. It’s the largest lead in any division in the American League and second to the Dodgers (7.5 games) in the major leagues. Texas in fact is the only team in the West with a record of .500 or better.
Texas did come out of the series with an injury that is of concern. Alexi Ogando was struck in his throwing hand Sunday with a hard hit batted ball. Ron Washington removed him immediately from the game. X-rays were negative, and the injury is now termed a “bruised hand”, and his status is “day-to-day”.
There is no question that this weekend’s series was a hit at the box office. All three games were official sellouts, as approximately 140,000 fans saw the games live at the ballpark. Sunday’s total of 46,637 ran the season total over 1,000,000. Texas has now sold out 16 home games, second most in club history behind 1994, the year the Ballpark in Arlington opened. That is 16 sellouts in 23 home dates, an average of almost 44,000 per game. The current attendance pace would put the total for the year at around 3,550,000, far more than the previous club record of less than three million.
The home stand closes with three games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday against the Mariners. All three begin at 7:05, are telecast on FSN Southwest, and are broadcast in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area on ESPN radio 103.3 FM. The announced starting pitchers for the series are:
Monday Matt Harrison (5-4, 4.72) vs. Kevin Millwood (3-4, 3.72)
Tuesday Scott Feldman (0-2, 4.66 vs. Jason Vargas (5-4, 3.39)
Wednesday Derek Holland (4-3, 4.05) vs. Blake Beavan (2-4, 4.38)